New Delhi: The 15-member United Nations Security Council (UNSC) is in ‘no hurry’ to discuss the role played by China in the origin and spread of the deadly novel coronavirus that has caused almost the entire world to lock down, resulting in a serious economic impact, ThePrint has learnt.
According to diplomatic sources, most countries that constitute the UNSC are battling the monumental crisis triggered by Covid-19, which is believed to have originated in Wuhan, China. As a result, the sources said, there is “no time, energy or resources” left for these countries to take “China head-on”.
The UNSC has five permanent members — China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The other 10 non-permanent members are Germany, Dominican Republic, Belgium, Estonia, Indonesia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam.
An attempt was made to take up the matter at the UNSC last month, but with China holding the presidency of the forum, the effort got blocked. At the time, the European nation Estonia had also urged the UN General Assembly to come out with a statement against the role played by China.
China’s presidency of the UNSC ended on 31 March. Now, the Dominican Republic has assumed the presidency for the month of April.
US would have led the effort
Diplomatic sources said the US would have spearheaded the effort to raise the issue at the UNSC, but with the pandemic wreaking havoc there, claiming over 4,000 lives, the Donald Trump administration is not keen on pushing the UNSC to discuss the matter.
Another diplomat said all countries should start calling it the “China virus”, like US President Trump did, “so that this gets under their skin”, similar to the 1918 ‘Spanish Flu’ pandemic that originated in Spain.
However, according to yet another diplomatic source, China is also being supported by Russia at this time, though European countries are keen on “intensifying the talks”.
India, which is not a member of the UNSC, believes this one issue has impacted all of humankind, and hence the members should take it up “as and when they deem fit”.
When UNSC discussed HIV/AIDS and Ebola
In July 2000, the UNSC had met to discuss the impact of HIV/AIDS on peace and security in Africa, and also passed a resolution. This was the first time the council met to discuss a public health crisis.
In 2014, the UNSC, then under UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, had to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the public health crisis that emerged due to the Ebola outbreak, and even passed a resolution.
According to Asoke Mukerji, former Indian ambassador and permanent representative to the UN in New York, the fact that Covid-19 threatens international peace and security must be established first.
“The mandate of the UNSC under the charter is to maintain international peace and security. How Covid-19 threatens international peace and security needs to be established first. The UNSC cannot replace the UNGA,” Mukerji told ThePrint.
Dilip Sinha, former Indian ambassador to the UN in Geneva, said: “It’s been done in the past with HIV/AIDS and Ebola… The resolutions were routine declaratory and exhortative texts … But I agree that this is outside the remit of the UNSC.”
Sinha added: “However, that will not be the reason why in this case UNSC will stay out. China simply will not permit it, whether it has the presidency or not. As permanent member, it has the necessary clout.”
Sinha, who also served as vice president of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC), said in principle, a procedural resolution is not subject to a veto, so a discussion cannot be blocked.