In Brief

Could coronavirus lead to world peace?

International leaders throw their weight behind plans for a global ceasefire – but will it hold?

International leaders look set to agree a landmark global ceasefire that could bring a temporary halt to many of the world’s conflicts, in a rare moment of solidarity to help combat the coronavirus pandemic.

First mooted by UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres last month when he argued that war-ravaged countries were particularly vulnerable to coronavirus pandemics because they have acutely poor healthcare provisions, the idea has quickly gathered pace, driven in large part by French President Emmanuel Macron.

On Wednesday, Macron told RFI he had secured the support of four of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council needed for a ceasefire to be operable, with Russian President Vladimir Putin “certain to agree too”.

Kremlin spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said “work is underway”, and if agreed the move would represent “a major act of international co-operation at a time when multilateral co-operation in other areas is weakening”, reports Business Insider.

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However, “it remains to be seen whether the peace initiative will be anything more than a hopeful declaration in forcing a halt to wars worldwide,” says The Times.

The newspaper notes that a unilateral two-week ceasefire called by the Saudi-led coalition fighting in Yemen came into effect on 9 April has already broken down, while Kremlin-backed Libyan military leader Khalifa Haftar and Syria’s Bashar al-Assad are unlikely to give their opponents any breathing room.

“Clearly, such an action would not eradicate some of the greatest challenges to world peace” says CNN, but it nevertheless demonstrates “a rare sign of global unity in the current climate” says US news site Axios, especially after Trump announced his plan to halt US funding to the World Health Organization and again questioned China’s transparency over the coronavirus outbreak, casting doubt on its reporting of cases and the origins of the virus.

It would also mark a moment of personal triumph for Macron. CNN says France's 42-year-old president “is now positioning himself to take over the mantle of global leadership long reserved to the older leaders of China, Russia or especially the United States”.

“And right now, he has no real challengers”.

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