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Tunisia Presses Security Council to Call COVID-19 a Threat to Peace

Tunisia Presses Security Council to Call COVID-19 a Threat to Peace

Thursday, 2 April, 2020 - 04:45
FILE PHOTO - The United Nations Security Council meets on Syria at the UN headquarters in New York, US, March 12, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Segar
Asharq Al-Awsat

Tunisia has proposed a UN Security Council resolution calling for "urgent international action" to curb the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, which it described as “a threat to humanity.”

In broad terms, the draft resolution echoes UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in calling for "an immediate global humanitarian ceasefire."

Tunisia, a non-permanent member of the Security Council, proposes in the preamble that the council express "concern about the impact on food security and economies... all over the world due to work, travel and trade restrictions, lockdown measures and cessation of industrial activities."

The draft says the pandemic is “a threat to humanity and to international peace and security.”

It was embraced by the all 10 non-permanent Council members, a diplomat said. In addition to Tunisia, they include Germany, Belgium, Indonesia, Vietnam, South Africa, Niger, the Dominican Republic, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Estonia.

But the resolution appears to reflect growing frustration between the non-permanent members and the permanent ones (Russia, the US, China, France and the United Kingdom).

According to diplomats, the proposed resolution's fate is uncertain as long as the United States continues to push for identifying the virus' Chinese origin, which would likely result in a veto by China.

Russia, which also holds a veto, might also want the resolution to call for a lifting of sanctions to better fight the pandemic.

Without US and European support, the resolution in that case would risk failing to garner the minimum nine of 15 votes required for passage.

The UN’s most powerful body has not addressed the pandemic sweeping the globe, but Dominican Republic Ambassador Jose Singer, the current council president, said Wednesday he expects members to meet on COVID-10 “for sure next week, or before.”

Guterres is expected to brief the council at the request of Germany’s UN Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, diplomats said.

Only Guterres has spoken out, warning on multiple occasions that "millions" of people are at risk of dying and stressing the need for a coordinated global response to what he described as the worst crisis since World War II.

Guterres has extended his order for non-essential UN to stay at home until the end of April.

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