9 May 2020   2 comments

UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for a general ceasefire in all current violent conflicts in the world, arguing that the COIVD-19 pandemic demanded the attention of all nations if it were to be contained. That call was made six weeks ago, and in that time there has been constant wrangling in the UN Security Council about the wording of the cease-fire resolution. His statement last March was clear:

“‘The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war’, he said.  ‘That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.  It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.’

“The ceasefire would allow humanitarians to reach populations that are most vulnerable to the spread of COVID-19, which first emerged in Wuhan, China, last December, and has now been reported in more than 180 countries. 

“So far, there are nearly 300,000 cases worldwide, and more than 12,700 deaths, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). 

“As the UN chief pointed out, COVID-19 does not care about nationality or ethnicity, or other differences between people, and ‘attacks all, relentlessly’, including during wartime. 

“It is the most vulnerable – women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized, displaced and refugees – who pay the highest price during conflict and who are most at risk of suffering ‘devastating losses’ from the disease.”

Unfortunately, consistent with its policies at the G7 and G20 meetings, the Trump Administration has decided to block any progress on other issues to pursue its goal of blaming the Chinese for the pandemic, this time using the World Health Organization as a foil for its tactic. The Security Council resolution initially called for support for WHO, but the US objected to the Chinese sponsored resolution. A compromise resolution mentioning only support for international health organizations was similarly opposed by the US. Reuters reports:

It appeared the 15-member body had reached a compromise late on Thursday, diplomats said and according to the latest version of a French- and Tunisian drafted-resolution.

Instead of naming the WHO, the draft text, which was seen by Reuters, “emphasizes the urgent need to support all countries, as well as all relevant entities of the United Nations system, including specialized health agencies.” The WHO is the only such agency.

The United States rejected that language on Friday, diplomats said, because it was an obvious reference to the Geneva-based WHO.

A UN Security Council Resolution would, under most circumstances, have little effect on ongoing conflicts. But in the midst of a crisis which demands almost complete attention to resolve, most of the participants to these conflicts might welcome a ceasefire. Their overriding self-interest now is in assuring that the pandemic is contained, not in continuing a conflict which drains resources and attention. But the petulance of the US in pursuing an agenda which is driven by the re-election interests of Mr. Trump has squandered this opportunity.

Posted May 9, 2020 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

2 responses to “9 May 2020

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  1. We are rudderless these days, it seems, in a time when we need a steady hand at the helm. I miss the days of calm, capable leadership, and hope that we will welcome it again on January 20, 2021.

    Like

    Kendall Middlemas Henley

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