In a first, UN adopts 4 resolutions through email voting due to COVID-19

The 15 members voted via email for the first time in history./ Represenational image

The 15 members voted via email for the first time in history./ Represenational image   | Photo Credit: Getty Images/iStock

The U.N.’s most powerful body has been meeting by video because of COVID-19, which has hit New York City, where the U.N. has its headquarters, exceedingly hard.

The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted four resolutions on Monday, with its 15 members voting by email for the first time because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Members voted to keep troops in Sudan’s restive Darfur region until the end of May and maintain the U.N. political mission in Somalia until June 30. They extended the mandate of the U.N. panel of experts for North Korea until April 30, 2021 and they stressed the importance of supporting the U.N.’s far-flung peacekeeping operations.

The U.N.’s most powerful body has been meeting by video because of COVID-19, which has hit New York City, where the U.N. has its headquarters, exceedingly hard. The last council meeting in the headquarters complex was on March 12, when a resolution was adopted extending the mandate of the U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan and welcoming “encouraging developments” toward peace.


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A resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom and Germany extends the joint United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur known as UNAMID until May 31 when the council said it will decide on “the responsible draw-down and exit” of UNAMID. The council said it also intends to establish “a follow-on presence to UNAMID” at the same time.

The Darfur conflict began in 2003 when ethnic Africans rebelled, accusing the Arab-dominated Sudanese government of discrimination. The government in Khartoum was accused of retaliating by arming local nomadic Arab tribes and unleashing them on civilian populations — a charge it denies. In recent years, as the result of a successful government military campaign, the rebellion has been reduced to a single rebel faction.


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There has been pressure, including from the Trump administration, to scale down the UNAMID force in response to reduced fighting and security conditions. It was established in 2007 and was one of the U.N.’s most expensive operations, with a ceiling of 15,845 military personnel and 3,403 police in June 2016.

A proposed U.N. Security Council resolution obtained by AP earlier this month would replace UNAMID with a U.N. political and peace-building mission whose primary aim would be to support Sudan’s fragile transition to democracy, including drafting a new constitution and preparing for elections. But that proposal could be changed before the council makes a final decision on UNAMID and a follow-on mission at the end of May.

China, which holds the rotating council presidency in March, sponsored a resolution adopted unanimously stressing “the crucial role” that U.N. peacekeepers play “in achieving conditions for stability and a lasting peace,” and urging countries where they are deployed to ensure their freedom of movement.

U.N. peacekeeping currently has over 100,000 field personnel including military, police and civilians from over 120 countries deployed in 13 active missions across three continents.

The resolution expresses “grave concern about security threats and targeted attacks” against peacekeepers in many missions, condemns “in the strongest terms” all violence and killings of peacekeeping personnel, and calls for prompt investigation and prosecution of those responsible for attacks against them.

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Printable version | Jun 5, 2020 11:54:26 PM |

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