UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The U.N. General Assembly unanimously approved a resolution Thursday recognizing “the unprecedented effects” of the coronavirus pandemic and calling for “intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat” the COVID-19 disease.
It was the first resolution adopted by the 193-member world body on the pandemic that is sweeping the world and reflects global concern at the fast-rising death toll and number of cases.
The assembly did not approve a rival resolution sponsored by Russia calling for U.N. solidarity in the face of the challenges posed by the new virus and urging an end to trade wars, protectionist practices and unilateral sanctions without U.N. Security Council approval.
Under new voting rules instituted because the General Assembly isn’t holding meetings, a resolution is defeated if even a single country objects to it. Normally, assembly resolutions are adopted by majority votes or by consensus
Diplomats said the European Union, United Kingdom, United States and Ukraine objected to the Russian draft, which was co-sponsored by Central African Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.
General Assembly President Tijjani Muhammad-Bande sent a letter to member nations late Thursday saying that although an extension for objections to the Russian draft had been granted until Tuesday at 6 p.m. EDT, “subsequent consultations with several delegations clearly indicated that further time will not facilitate the resolution of the differences expressed.” Therefore, he said, the time for objections “has come to an end, effective immediately,” and the resolution remains defeated.
Bande sent a letter earlier Thursday evening informing all U.N. member nations that there were no objections to the other resolution, titled “Global Solidarity to fight the coronavirus disease” and sponsored by Ghana, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland. He said it was approved and is in effect.
The resolution reaffirms the General Assembly’s “commitment to international cooperation and multilateralism and its strong support for the central role of the United Nations system in the global response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic.”
It calls on U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to lead the mobilization and coordination of a global response to the pandemic “and its adverse social, economic and financial impact on all societies.”
The resolution recognizes COVID-19’s “severe disruption to societies and economies, as well as to global travel and commerce, and the devastating impact on the livelihood of people,” and stresses that “the poorest and most vulnerable are the hardest hit” and must be helped.
The resolution also emphasizes the need to respect human rights and oppose “any form of discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the response to the pandemic.”
The 15-member Security Council is expected to discuss the pandemic sometime next week. It is likely to have two resolutions to consider, one backed by the council’s 10 elected members and the other by permanent member France.