Proposed UN resolution calls COVID-19 a threat to peace

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Tunisia has proposed a U.N. Security Council resolution that would call the coronavirus pandemic “a threat to humanity and to international peace and security” and call for an immediate global humanitarian cease-fire to respond to “the unprecedented threat posed by COVID-19.”

The U.N.’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.” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is expected to brief the council at the request of Germany’s U.N. Ambassador Christoph Heusgen, diplomats said.

Singer said negotiations on the resolution were taking place among the 15 council members.

The draft resolution, which diplomats say has support from the 10 non-permanent council members, stresses the importance of “urgent international action to curb the impact of COVID-19.” It underscores “that combating this pandemic requires greater international cooperation and solidarity, and a coordinated, comprehensive and global international response under the leadership of the United Nations.”

In calling for a global ceasefire, the proposed resolution “demands that all efforts emphasize on fighting the pandemic and saving lives.”

It would also express the council’s “commitment to take special measures to provide protection for the most vulnerable in conflict zones, especially refugees, displaced populations, women, children and persons with disabilities.”

The Security Council has twice previously addressed public health emergencies, first the HIV/AIDS pandemic and second the swiftly spreading Ebola outbreak in West Africa in 2014 which it called a threat to international peace and security.

The U.N. General Assembly is expected to decide by Thursday evening whether to adopt either, both, or neither of two rival resolutions on COVID-19.

One resolution, which has more than 135 co-sponsors, supports the World Health Organization and calls for “intensified international cooperation” to defeat the pandemic. The other, sponsored by Russia with support from four countries, also recognizes WHO’s leading role, but it says unilateral sanctions must not be applied without U.N. Security Council approval.