Amid the heightened tension due to an alarming surge of COVID-19 cases across the world coupled with increasing number of deaths by the hour, the UN Security Council is said to hold its first meeting on the coronavirus pandemic on Thursday, after weeks of no consensus among its five permanent members, diplomats said Monday. The meeting is to be held behind closed doors at 3:00 pm (1900 GMT), and comes after China vacated the rotating presidency of the top body at the onset of April, having purportedly blocked the Coronavirus discussion through March.
However, the UN General Assembly last week consensually adopted a resolution calling for "international cooperation" and "multilateralism" in the fight against COVID-19 -- the first text to come out of the world body since the outbreak began.
After much back and forth among the permanent members including between the United States and China leading to the council's paralysis, nine of the 10 non-permanent members formally requested a meeting featuring a presentation by Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
The nine countries that requested the meeting are Germany, which initiated the effort, followed by Belgium, the Dominican Republic, Estonia, Indonesia, Niger, St Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam. The only non-permanent South Africa did not support the move, stating that the council's purpose has always been peace and security, not health and economic issues.
The United States has demanded that for any meeting to proceed it must specify that the virus first emerged in China, which has been opposed by the latter. Diplomats said on Monday that opposition to holding a council meeting was coming from the Chinese and the Russians.
On the other hand, France has been hesitating to hold the Security Council meeting with a view of first having the five permanent members Britain, China, France, Russia and the US on the same page in order to hold a consolidated meeting with non-permanent members.
For those nine countries, it's "really irresponsible to block" a council meeting and to "paralyse" the institution since the start of the crisis, a diplomat from one of them said.
The deadly pandemic has taken the world hostage as the number of COVID-19 positive cases and deaths is increasing at a massive rate. As on April 7, the total number of infected cases is nearing 1.35 million while the number of deaths is nearing 75,000 mark posing a threat to humanity and economies across the world as the developed countries are also helpless and struggling to contain the pandemic.
(With PTI inputs)