France, one of the five permanent members of the Council having a right of veto, and Tunisia, one of the 10 elected members, merged their rival resolutions in the hope of obtaining the approval of the first Council resolution since COVID-19 began to travel around the world. But diplomats say a vote was delayed mainly on a dispute between the United States and China over the inclusion of a reference to the World Health Organization.
President Donald Trump suspended funding for WHO in early April, accusing the UN health agency of not having prevented the virus from spreading when it first appeared in China, saying that he “must be held responsible”, and accusing the WHO of parroting Beijing.
China firmly supports WHO and insists that its role in calling for global action on COVID-19 be included in any resolution, say diplomats, while the United States insists on a reference to “transparency” on COVID -19 and no mention of WHO.
The ambassadors of the 15 nations of the Council met Tuesday behind closed doors on the Franco-Tunisian draft resolution and the French ambassador to the United States, Nicolas de Rivière, said later that it was “a good discussion” .
“France and Tunisia are working hard on it, things are moving forward,” he said. “The Security Council must act now.”
Tunisian United Nations Ambassador Kais Kabtani told several journalists that the two countries are working “very hard to present a final agreement” and are counting “on the spirit of compromise of the members of the council”.
At the meeting, he said, “Tunisia stressed the urgency of concluding the ongoing consultation process on the draft resolution on COVID-19 in the coming days”
“This is a moment of truth for the United Nations and the multilateral system as they face the most difficult crisis the United Nations has faced since the Second World War,” said Kabtani.
The 193-member United Nations General Assembly approved two resolutions on COVID-19 in April.
One recognizes “the unprecedented effects” of the pandemic and calls for “intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat” the new coronavirus. The other urges global action to rapidly scale up the development, manufacturing and access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment to deal with the pandemic.
General Assembly resolutions reflect the views of governments around the world but are not legally binding. However, Security Council resolutions are legally binding.
United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres, who called for a ceasefire for all world conflicts on March 23 in order to attack COVID-19, told reporters on Thursday: “I hope the The Security Council will be able to find unity and adopt decisions that can help make the ceasefires meaningful and real. “
The Franco-Tunisian draft resolution demands an immediate ceasefire in the main conflicts on the agenda of the Security Council of Syria and Yemen in Libya, South Sudan and the Congo, and calls on all parties to armed conflict to “immediately engage in lasting humanitarian action for at least 30 consecutive days” to channel aid.
The project, obtained by the Associated Press, indicates that these measures do not apply to military operations against the Islamic State and the extremist groups of Al-Qaida and their affiliates.
Edith M. Lederer, The Associated Press