Months later, U.N. Security Council backs call for coronavirus truce

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The U.N. Security Council on Wednesday finally backed U.N. chief Antonio Guterres’ March 23 call for a global truce amid the coronavirus pandemic, adopting a resolution after months of talks to win a compromise between the United States and China.

FILE PHOTO: Secretary General of the United Nations Antonio Guterres speaks during a Security Council meeting about the situation in Syria at U.N. Headquarters in the Manhattan borough of New York City, New York, U.S., February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

The resolution, drafted by France and Tunisia, calls for “all parties to armed conflicts to engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days” to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid.

Negotiations on the resolution were stymied by a standoff between China and the United States over whether to urge support for the World Health Organization. The United States did not want a reference to the global health body, while China did.

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U.S. President Donald Trump said in May that Washington would quit the Geneva-based U.N. agency over its handling of the pandemic, accusing it of being “China-centric” and promoting China’s “disinformation,” assertions the WHO denies.

The adopted Security Council resolution does not mention the WHO but references a U.N. General Assembly resolution that does.

“We have really seen the body at its worst,” Richard Gowan, International Crisis Group U.N. director, said of the council. “This is a dysfunctional Security Council.”

The United States and China both took veiled swipes at each other after the resolution was adopted.

The United States said in a statement that while it supported the resolution “it does not include crucial language to emphasize transparency and data-sharing as critical aspects in fighting this virus.”

China’s U.N. Ambassador Zhang Jun acknowledged the body “should have responded immediately” to Guterres’ call, adding: “We were very frustrated that some country politicized this process.”

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(This story has been refiled to change “countries” to “country” in China envoy’s quote)

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