The United States on Friday surprised other members of the UN Security Council by blocking a vote on a resolution calling for a ceasefire in various conflicts in the world to help countries better combat the Covid-19 epidemic, one day later One of her approval of the text.
After two months of arduous negotiations on the text, the US mission told representatives of the other 14 members of the Security Council that “the United States cannot support the draft currently on the table”.
This obstruction makes the International Peace and Security Organization silent in the face of an epidemic that occurs once in a century, which has so far resulted in the deaths of more than 270,000 people worldwide and raises concerns about the most vulnerable.
In response to a question about the US move, a State Department official told AFP that China “has repeatedly blocked settlements that could have allowed the UN Security Council to move forward”.
Diplomats told AFP that the language used in the draft resolution to describe the World Health Organization is the reason for the United States’ move to prevent the vote.
But other sources told AFP that Washington wanted the Security Council to return to a draft of the resolution stressing the need for “transparency” in global cooperation to stop the epidemic.
“From our point of view, the Council must either adopt a resolution that is limited to supporting the ceasefire or a broader resolution that fully addresses the need to renew Member States’ commitment to transparency and accountability in the framework of Covid-19,” said a State Department official.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly accused the WHO of complacent about the seriousness of the epidemic when it appears in China.
The measures that were cut off by Washington should have allowed the sponsors of the text France and Tunisia to put it to a vote.
The latest text of the draft resolution, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, calls for the cessation of hostilities in conflict areas and a “humanitarian pause” to allow governments to better cope with the epidemic for the most suffering.
The text calls on all nations to “enhance coordination” among them in combating the virus, and notes “the urgent need to support all countries and relevant entities within the United Nations system, including specialized health agencies and other international and regional organizations and those affiliated with them”.
Diplomats said that these phrases, which refer to the World Health Organization without mentioning it explicitly, was a settlement reached between China and the United States on Thursday night.
Washington has accused the United Nations organization of not adopting transparency and delaying warning the world of the consequences of Covid-19.
In return, Beijing wants to stress the importance of the organization in fighting the pandemic.
Washington had threatened to use the veto if there was any explicit reference to the World Health Organization, while Beijing waved a veto if this international organization was not mentioned before it agreed to the last version.
Diplomats said that the United States left a whole week before it spoke of including the issue of “transparency” in the French-Tunisian text.
One of those diplomats added, “The ball is now in the China court”.
The ambassador of a member of the Security Council considered that changing the position of the United States “is very bad news for the United Nations, the Security Council and multilateralism”.
The Secretary-General of the International Organization, Antonio Guterres, has been pushing for a ceasefire in conflicts since 23 March, calling on all parties to stop fighting and allow countries in wars to fight the emerging Coronavirus.
French Ambassador to the United Nations Nicolas Riviere told France Presse that he would “definitely like to continue attempts to reach an agreement, if possible”.
As for his Tunisian counterpart, Qais Al Qubtani, he declared that discussions are continuing to “persuade the Americans”, pledging to reach a vote.
Ironically, on Friday the Security Council held a video conference organized by Estonia, which holds its rotating presidency during May, on the occasion of the seventy-fifth anniversary of the end of the Second World War.
More than fifty ministers from all over the world participated in the conference, most of whom made an “appeal for pluralism”.
Tunisia and France considered that this formula, which does not refer directly to the World Health Organization and mentions it only indirectly, represents a compromise solution to obtain the final approval of the project by the United States and China.