COVID-19: UNGA adopts resolution, calls for global cooperation to fight pandemic

General Assembly rejects another resolution sponsored by Russia as EU, US and UK raise objection

Co-sponsored by India and 187 other nations, the resolution has called for intensified global cooperation to defeat the deadly disease. Photo: iStock

As the number of cases infected with the coronavirus has spiked to over one million across the world, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) has, for the first time, adopted a resolution on the COVID-19 pandemic unanimously.

Co-sponsored by India and 187 other nations, the resolution, titled Global solidarity to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), has called for intensified global cooperation to defeat the deadly disease that is causing “severe disruption” to societies and economies.

However, the UN Security Council is yet to discuss the coronavirus outbreak. The resolution, adopted on April 2 , said the 193-member General Assembly noted with great concern the threat to human health, safety and well-being caused by the pandemic.

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It recognises the “unprecedented effects of the pandemic, including the severe disruption to societies and economies, as well as to global travel and commerce, and the devastating impact on the livelihood of people.

The resolution called for intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat the pandemic, including by exchanging information, scientific knowledge and best practices and by applying the relevant guidelines recommended by the WHO.

It emphasised the need for full respect for human rights, and stresses that there is no place for any form of discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the response to the pandemic.

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The resolution said UNGA reaffirms its 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 was sponsored by Ghana, Indonesia, Liechtenstein, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland.

Since the General Assembly is not holding meetings due to the pandemic, the resolution was adopted under a silence procedure. The draft resolution was under silence procedure until April 2 at 6pm.

According to the new voting rules, if there were no objections to the resolution within the specified time period from member states, the President of the General Assembly Tijjani Muhammad-Bande would circulate a letter confirming adoption.

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A second draft resolution titled Declaration of solidarity of the United Nations in the face of the challenges posed by the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), sponsored by Russia and supported by Central African Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela was not approved by the General Assembly.

The resolution called for refraining from raising trade barriers, imposing new export restrictions or implementing protectionist and discriminatory measures inconsistent with the World Trade Organisation rules, and not to apply any unilateral coercive measures undertaken without the mandate of the Security Council.

Diplomats said the European Union, United Kingdom, United States and Ukraine objected to the Russian text.

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Russias Mission to the UN said it “regrets” that a small group of states “championing sanctions-based policy appeared unready to respond to the call of the UN Secretary-General and refused to cast aside politicised approaches and interests. “As a result, it will be much more difficult to give a global and solidary response to the threat of the new pandemic.

“Despite the fact that the proposed Declaration was blocked by a small group of states, we will set forth coordination with our like-minded colleagues on that matter. We hope all the interested countries will join it, so that the world could hear the call for practical cooperation on all tracks of combating the pandemic,” the mission added.

The resolution on global solidarity expressed its gratitude and support to all frontline health-care workers, medical professionals, scientists and researchers, as well as other essential service providers.

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Through the resolution, the Assembly renewed its commitment to help people and societies in special situations, especially the weakest and most vulnerable.

The resolution expresses optimism that the unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic can be mitigated and successfully reversed through leadership and sustained global cooperation and solidarity and calls upon the United Nations system to work with all relevant actors to mobilise a coordinated global response to the pandemic and its adverse impact on all societies.

It also recognised that the poorest and most vulnerable are the hardest hit by the pandemic and that the impact of the crisis will reverse hard-won development gains and hamper progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.

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The 15-nation Security Council, the most powerful UN organ, is expected to hold a meeting on the COVID-19 pandemic next week, Special Envoy from Dominican Republic to UN Ambassador Jose Singer and President of Security Council for April has said.

Yes, as we all know COVID-19 will be the main topic in the world as we speak. (We are) working on it. It (the meeting) was requested by five or six ambassadors, and we will make it happen.for sure next week or before, Singer said, adding that the Council has not discussed the issue of a resolution so far.