Commitments into Action: A holistic and coherent response to COVID-19 across the Humanitarian-Development-Peace Nexus

Published Date

It was developed by RG4 in collaboration with UNSDG and OECD INCAF.


The COVID-19 pandemic is having an unprecedented global impact on health, lives and livelihoods – disrupting economies, markets and societal relations. It is generating a devastating level of human suffering and there is the risk of a global death toll that numbers in the millions. At the same time, the pandemic has engendered an extraordinary level of global solidarity, based on the recognition that, in the words of the UN Secretary General, “the world is only as strong as the weakest health system.”

As the world comes together to step up to the challenge of addressing the impacts of the pandemic – to protect lives and limit the socio-economic consequences of the virus – world leaders have made ambitious and far-reaching commitments to tackle the virus1. The challenge now is to translate these commitments into practical, actionable steps – to turn Commitments into Action. This will require holistic, integrated and coherent responses that support the poorest nations, the most fragile contexts and meet the needs of vulnerable people and communities, thereby delivering on our collective ambitions in the Sustainable Development Goals of leaving no-one behind.

The pandemic, and its containment measures, will require a very different response in fragile and crisis-affected situations, where it creates both a public health and socio-economic emergency. The response will need to be contextualised, comprehensive and multidimensional, given that COVID-19 may compound broader challenges of conflict, poverty and stability, and undermine previous development efforts.

Ensuring that we make use of all the means at our disposal and that humanitarian, development and peace actions are delivered in a complementary, mutually reinforcing and simultaneous manner, to provide immediate life-saving assistance, while also addressing longer-term impacts, will be critical to our success. The response will also need to reinforce local ownership and trust; while being grounded in humanitarian principles and conflict sensitivity, to do no harm. The aspiration to leave no-one behind will need to be taken into account, grounded in a rights-based approach and with particular attention to the needs of marginalised groups, as well as the differentiated impacts of the virus on women, men, girls, boys, the forcibly displaced, the disabled and youth.

The following document aims to inform further thinking and stimulate practical measures that are informed by a ‘nexus approach’ that delivers: the right financing, in the right place, in the right way, at the right time; partnerships that are inclusive and engage a range of diverse stakeholders; coordinated, open and empowering; knowledge and information sharing, to ensure consistency and reduce overlaps while strengthening shared analysis and; responses that are conflict sensitive and draw on the full range of political, economic and social tools available.

If we succeed, the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic holds the potential to transform global cooperation and contribute to a more peaceful, prosperous, resilient and healthier world.