China, US Block UN Resolution on Coronavirus

  • The resolution calls for a global ceasefire to facilitate the fight against the virus. 
  • China wanted to "mention the World Health Organization" in the resolution.
  • The United States "rejects" it, blaming both China and the WHO for the pandemic.

On Thursday, the United States and China blocked a French-Tunisian draft resolution in the United Nations Security Council calling for “enhanced coordination” in the face of Coronavirus pandemic. A diplomat, who declined to be identified, summed up the situation by saying, “it’s a major stalemate, nobody’s moving.” Another said, “we’re treading water.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that is concerned with international public health. It was established on 7 April 1948, and is headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland. The WHO is a member of the United Nations Development Group. Its predecessor, the Health Organization, was an agency of the League of Nations.

The text, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, is the result of weeks of negotiations. It stipulates support for the call on March 23 by the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, for a global ceasefire to facilitate the fight against the virus.  It calls for a humanitarian pause of 90 days to allow aid to be delivered to the most affected populations in countries facing conflict.

On the backgrounds of Beijing and Washington blocking the vote, diplomats said China wanted to “mention the World Health Organization” in the project, while the United States “rejects” it. “We don’t comment on ongoing negotiations” at the Security Council, a US State Department spokesperson said when asked about it. AFP points out that it was not possible to get any response from the Chinese side.

France and Tunisia, the two drafters of the text, find themselves forced to wait for a settlement between the two permanent members due to their veto power. However, it appears that “no progress” has been made on the WHO issue since the weekend. A vote on the draft resolution was expected to take place this week, which has been strongly demanded for more than a month by the Secretary-General. However, the US-China obstruction makes achieving this more and more unlikely in the short term.

António Guterres is a Portuguese politician and diplomat who is serving as the ninth Secretary-General of the United Nations. Previously, he was the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees between 2005 and 2015.

“I am particularly concerned about the lack of adequate solidarity with developing countries, with equipment to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, which risks spreading like wildfire, and in the face of the tragic economic and social impacts,” Guterres said at a press conference today.

This obstacle can be overcome if China and the United States succeed in reaching a settlement, as a Western diplomat saw it. The issue of the World Health Organization is only an attached subject in a decision centered around support for a ceasefire for some 20 conflicts in the world.

The resolution contained an empty paragraph devoted to the World Health Organization, whose content was supposed to be “determined by the conclusion of negotiations.” However, France and Tunisia could completely remove it. It had not been for China’s fear that the resolution would vote against and Russia would support it with a second veto.

With the exception of a video conference on April 9, at the request of Germany and Estonia, the Security Council did not discuss the issue of the health crisis. The coronavirus crisis is the most dangerous to the world since at least the Second World War.

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Joyce Davis

My history goes back to 2002 and I  worked as a reporter, interviewer, news editor, copy editor, managing editor, newsletter founder, almanac profiler, and news radio broadcaster.

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