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UNSC won’t discuss Covid-19; China blocks it with help from Russia, South Africa

Hindustan Times logo Hindustan Times 27-03-2020 Shishir Gupta

China, Russia and South Africa nixed Estonian efforts to initiate a discussion in the UN Security Council over the spread of Covid-19 with loss of lives threatening the peace and security of the world. China, from where the virus originated, is the President of the UNSC till March 31, after which Dominican Republic takes over.

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According to diplomatic sources, while Russia and South Africa said that there was no direct link between the spread of virus and threat to peace and security of the world, China shot down the proposal saying that there was no consensus within the UNSC, a mandatory requirement to take up any proposal. Russia and South Africa are close trade partners of China with the latter being the stepping-stone to Beijing's access into Africa.

While the Estonian proposal talked about transparency over the Covid-19 outbreak, there were hardly any takers for the proposal in the UNSC with all the permanent members being seriously afflicted by the rampaging virus.

"It is quite evident that none of the P-5 want to come up with a solution that is binding on them such as opening up the borders," said a diplomat.\

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It is not that the UN Security Council, which focuses on threats of peace and security, hasn't discussed the impact of diseases. The UN Security Council has spoken about Ebola and its impact on more than one occasion since 2014. People familiar with the development said this had been possible because the United States had worded its proposal to underline that deaths due to the virus were exacerbating the conflict in west Africa, particularly Sierra Leone, and thus presenting a threat to global peace and security.



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"The fact is that no one wants to touch the UN as was evident in the G-20 meeting on Covid-19 on Thursday. While India wanted the century-old institution WHO (World Health Organisation) to be reformed, the rest wanted to strengthen the very institution that was shy in calling out China over the spread of virus. It is a cosy club, the UN, which does not accept any new members," said a retired UN diplomat.

a crowd of people in a room: The now-nixed proposal to discuss Covid-19 in the UN Security Council had been moved by Estonia (UN Photo/Manuel Elias) © Provided by Hindustan Times The now-nixed proposal to discuss Covid-19 in the UN Security Council had been moved by Estonia (UN Photo/Manuel Elias)

It is being suggested that the real reason why almost every major country - Donald Trump has been an exception in this - is shy of calling out China is because Beijing has built excess medical capacities in the form of ventilators, HAZMAT suits, masks and other equipment required for treatment in the past three months.

"All the countries are quiet over China as they may have to import the same equipment from them in case of a worst case scenario. Simply put, China first created the demand and now will supply it," said a China watcher.

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