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9 May, 2020 00:26

War of words over actual war? US BLOCKS UN resolution on global Covid-19 ceasefire over its support for WHO

War of words over actual war? US BLOCKS UN resolution on global Covid-19 ceasefire over its support for WHO

A dispute between the US and China scuttled a proposed UN resolution calling for a global ceasefire during the Covid-19 pandemic, after Beijing insisted on support for the World Health Organization and Washington vetoed it.

All 15 members of the UN Security Council agreed in principle with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for a global ceasefire, made on March 23, but have wrangled over the wording of the resolution ever since. China has insisted on including support for the WHO and the agency’s role in dealing with the pandemic, while the US demanded removal of all references to the WHO and insertion of language about “transparency” on Covid-19, diplomats who requested anonymity told news agencies.

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France and Tunisia drafted what they “believe was compromise language” and sent the resolution to other members on Thursday, only for the US to reject it on Friday afternoon.

There was a rumor among reporters covering the UN that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo personally intervened to block the resolution.

The draft spoke of “the urgent need to support all countries, as well as all relevant entities of the United Nations system, including specialized health agencies, and other relevant international, regional, and sub-regional organizations, in line with their respective mandates, to enhance coordination and assist in the global fight against” the coronavirus.

It also welcomed “all efforts and measures proposed by the secretary-general concerning the response to the potential impact of the [Covid-19] pandemic to conflict-affected countries, in particular his appeal for an immediate global ceasefire.”

A spokesperson for the US mission to the UN in New York put out a statement saying that Washington wanted the council to “either proceed with a resolution limited to support for a ceasefire, or a broadened resolution that fully addresses the need for renewed member state commitment to transparency and accountability in the context of Covid-19.”

The Trump administration has accused the WHO of kowtowing to China and helping Beijing “misinform” the world about the virus and its outbreak, first registered in the Chinese city of Wuhan back in December. Pompeo and President Donald Trump have even argued the virus may have been accidentally released from the Wuhan Institute of Virology – something the Chinese government has vehemently denied – without presenting any evidence to back it up. 

Trump has also accused China of allowing the virus to spread to the rest of the world, and disputes official data showing fewer than 84,000 cases and just under 4,700 deaths in China. Meanwhile, the US has registered almost 1.3 million cases and more than 77,000 deaths.

It remains unknown in which animal species the virus evolved the ability to infect humans, or where the jump happened and how, as the original theory about a Wuhan resident consuming tainted bat meat bought at the city’s “wet market” has also been rejected by Chinese authorities.

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