After nearly three months of differences and negotiations, the UN Security Council on Wednesday unanimously adopted the first COVID-19-related resolution, demanding a general and immediate cessation of hostilities around the world.
The France and Tunisia drafted resolution “demands a general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations on its agenda and supports the efforts undertaken by the Secretary-General and his Special Representatives and Special Envoys in that respect.”
It calls upon all parties to armed conflicts to engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days, in order to enable the “safe, unhindered and sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance, provisions of related services by impartial humanitarian actors,” in accordance with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence, and medical evacuations.
The Council has been strongly criticised for its inaction and lack of leadership in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and its failure to adopt even a single resolution on the global health and humanitarian crisis caused by the outbreak that has wreaked havoc across the world since early 2020.
The resolution came after months of negotiations as divisions among Council’s two permanent veto-wielding members – the US and China – hindered attempts to adopt a resolution.
A key sticking point between the US and China over the resolution was reference related to the World Health Organisation. Washington has strongly criticised the WHO for its handling of the pandemic, with President Donald Trump halting funding to the health body.
The resolution affirms that this “general and immediate” cessation of hostilities and humanitarian pause “do not apply to military operations against the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL, also known as Da’esh), Al Qaeda and Al Nusra Front (ANF), and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al Qaeda or ISIL, and other terrorist groups, which have been designated by the Security Council.”