UN rejects 2 COVID-19 resolutions from Russia, Saudi Arabia

World News

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. officials said the General Assembly rejected two resolutions on the coronavirus pandemic Wednesday, one from Russia and one from Saudi Arabia. It was the second defeat for a Russian resolution on COVID-19 by the 193-member world body.

Under voting rules instituted because the assembly isn’t holding meetings during the pandemic, a draft resolution is circulated to member nations. If a single country objects before the deadline — in this case noon EDT Wednesday — the resolution is defeated. Normally, assembly resolutions are adopted by majority votes or by consensus.

The original Russian resolution, which failed April 2, called for abandoning trade wars and protectionist measures and said no unilateral sanctions should be applied without approval from the U.N. Security Council. Diplomats said the European Union, United Kingdom, United States and Ukraine objected to it.

The revised resolution defeated Wednesday kept the reference to ending protectionist practices and dropped the reference to unilateral sanctions. But it welcomed an April 3 statement on COVID-19 by the Group of 77 and China — the main group of developing countries at the United Nations that now has 134 member states. The G77 statement included a call for the international community to adopt “measures to eliminate the use of unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries.”

Diplomats said the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan and South Korean objected to the new text.

Saudi Arabia, the current chair of the Group of 20 major global economies, proposed a resolution welcoming the March 26 G-20 summit statement on injecting $5 trillion into the global economy “to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic.”

The Saudi draft also stressed “the necessity of urgent short-term actions” to expand manufacturing capacity and swiftly deliver medical supplies and increase funding for research and development of vaccines and medicines.

Syria and Iran objected to the Saudi draft, said diplomats, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the voting process was closed.

The General Assembly previously approved two resolutions on COVID-19. A resolution adopted April 2 recognizes “the unprecedented effects” of the pandemic and calls for “intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat” the new coronavirus. A Mexico-sponsored resolution approved Monday night urges global action to rapidly scale up development, manufacturing and access to medicine, vaccines and medical equipment to confront the pandemic.

The latter resolution also reaffirms the U.N. role in coordinating the global response to control and contain the spread of COVID-19 and “acknowledges the crucial leading role played by the World Health Organization.”

U.S. President Donald Trump suspended funding to the WHO earlier this month, accusing the U.N. agency of failing to stop the virus from spreading when it first surfaced in China. The United States did not block adoption of the resolution.

General Assembly resolutions reflect the opinion of governments around the world but are not legally binding. Security Council resolutions are legally binding but the 15-member body has not adopted a resolution since the pandemic, though it is now considering one.

The draft resolution demands an immediate cease-fire in major conflicts from Syria and Yemen to Libya, South Sudan and Congo that are on the Security Council agenda and calls for all parties to armed conflicts “to engage immpediatelu in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 30 consecutive days” to deliver aid.

The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, states that these measures to not apply to military operations against the Islamic State and al-Qaida extremist groups and their affiliates.

The draft resolutions leaves unresolved the difficult issue of how to refer to the World Health Organization, saying “compromise related to the language on WHO to be decided at the end of the negotiation.”

U.S. President Donald Trump suspended funding to the World Health Organization earlier this month, accusing the U.N. agency of failing to stop the virus from spreading when it first surfaced in China, saying it “must be held accountable.’’

U.S. President Donald Trump suspended funding to the WHO earlier this month, accusing the U.N. agency of failing to stop the virus from spreading when it first surfaced in China. The United States did not block adoption of the resolution.

General Assembly resolutions reflect the opinion of governments around the world but are not legally binding. Security Council resolutions are legally binding but the 15-member body has not adopted a resolution since the pandemic, though it is now considering one, melded from drafts by Tunisia and France.

The draft resolution demands an immediate cease-fire in major conflicts from Syria and Yemen to Libya, South Sudan and Congo that are on the Security Council agenda and calls for all parties to armed conflicts “to engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 30 consecutive days” to deliver aid.

The draft, obtained by The Associated Press, states that these measures to not apply to military operations against the Islamic State and al-Qaida extremist groups and their affiliates.

It leaves unresolved the difficult issue of how to refer to the World Health Organization in light of U.S. opposition, saying compromise language will be “decided at the end of the negotiation.”

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