UN Security Council backs call for coronavirus truce after months of talks

Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for pause to armed conflict to allow aid deliveries

The UN Security Council has been holding votes virtually due to the pandemic. AFP
The UN Security Council has been holding votes virtually due to the pandemic. AFP

The UN Security Council on Wednesday finally backed UN chief Antonio Guterres' call from March 23 for a global truce amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The council adopted a resolution after months of negotiations to win a compromise between the US and China.

The resolution, drafted by France and Tunisia, calls for "all parties to armed conflicts" to immediately begin a ceasefire for at least 90 consecutive days to allow the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Talks on the resolution were stymied by a standoff between China and the US over whether to urge support for the World Health Organisation.

The US did not want a reference to the global health body but China did.

US President Donald Trump said in May that Washington would quit the UN agency over its handling of the pandemic, accusing it of being "China-centric" and promoting China's "disinformation", which the WHO denies.

The adopted Security Council resolution does not mention the WHO but refers to a UN General Assembly resolution that does.

"We have really seen the body at its worst," said Richard Gowan, the International Crisis Group director for the UN. "This is a dysfunctional Security Council."

The US and China took veiled swipes at each other after the resolution was adopted.

The US said that while it supported the resolution, "it does not include crucial language to emphasise transparency and data-sharing as critical aspects in fighting this virus".

China's UN ambassador Zhang Jun admitted that the body "should have responded immediately" to Mr Guterres's call.

"We were very frustrated that some country politicised this process," Mr Zhang said.

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Updated: July 2, 2020 12:59 AM

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