International

First UNSC meeting on COVID-19 by next week or before, says Council President

A man wearing a protective face mask walks on a street in Bari as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Bari, Italy.

A man wearing a protective face mask walks on a street in Bari as the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) continues, in Bari, Italy.   | Photo Credit: Reuters

According to estimates by the Johns Hopkins University, confirmed coronavirus cases across the world now stand at over 9,32,600 and over 42,000 deaths.

The UN Security Council is likely to meet for the first time by “next week or before” to discuss the coronavirus pandemic that has killed over 42,000 people globally, according to Dominican Republic Ambassador Jose Singer, the current president of the world body’s top organ.

The Dominican Republic assumed the rotating presidency of the powerful 15-nation council for the month of April, taking the baton from China, a permanent and veto-welding member.

Even as confirmed coronavirus cases across the world grew exponentially, the Security Council under the presidency of China last month, did not hold any discussions on the pandemic.

“Yes, as we all know the 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,” Special Envoy from Dominican Republic to UN Ambassador Singer and President of the Security Council for April told reporters during a virtual press briefing on Wednesday.

Singer was responding to questions from several reporters, including from PTI, on whether the Security Council plans to hold a special meeting this month on the COVID-19 pandemic that has engulfed the entire world.

Watch | Impact of COVID-19 on the global economy
 

Singer said it is his “understanding” that a meeting of the Security Council on the coronavirus situation “is being negotiated at the moment right now.”

According to estimates by the Johns Hopkins University, confirmed coronavirus cases across the world now stand at over 9,32,600 and over 42,000 deaths.

The U.S. has the highest number of coronavirus cases in the world at 2,13,372, followed by Italy (1,10,574), Spain (1,04,118) and China (82,361). Over 4,600 people have died in the U.S. so far because of the COVID-19.

 

Singer said that a few UN ambassadors brought up the matter during a virtual meeting of the Security Council earlier on Wednesday when the Dominican Republic presented to members of the Security Council its programme of work and informal plan of video teleconferencing (VTCs) for the month of April.

“The matter of a Security Council meeting on COVID-19 this month was brought up by a few ambassadors in our meeting and it’s taking shape as we speak,” he said.

When asked by PTI if any resolution on the COVID-19 is expected when the Council meets to discuss the issue, Singer said “we have not discussed the issue of a resolution...We are first expecting to hold that meeting, and then we’ll see how events play out.”

No need to panic, says China

China’s Ambassador to the UN Zhang Jun, as he took over the presidency of the Council in March, was asked whether China plans to discuss the coronavirus emergency.

He had said that there is no need to panic over the coronavirus epidemic and Beijing does not plan to discuss the situation in the Security Council during its presidency, even adding that the world is not far from the defeat of the COVID-19 with the coming of spring.

With regard to the Security Council, at this moment, is the general feeling of Members States, while we watch closely the situation, especially the new development, we do not need to go panicky about that epidemic, Zhang said.

He had added that the issue of the coronavirus falls within the concept of global public health while the Security Council’s primary responsibility is dealing with the geo-political security and peace matters.

Watch | A history of pandemics since the 20th century
 

So, the public health security issue is not in the scope of the mandate of the Security Council in a narrow concept. But what we do think is important is that the Security Council will also watch the situation very closely. At this moment, we do not have any plans to have a specific discussion on this issue, Zhang said.

Last week, a UN diplomat said that the silence of the Security Council on an issue impacting human security in such a profound manner reflects that it is obviously not fit for purpose for the challenges of our times.

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Printable version | Jun 7, 2020 5:37:59 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/first-unsc-meeting-on-covid-19-by-next-week-or-before-says-council-president/article31233580.ece

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