The United States blocked a vote on a UN Security Council resolution calling for a global ceasefire amid COVID-19 pandemic. The Trump administration objected to an indirect reference to the World Health Organisation (WHO) since the US has been critical of the UN health agency over its early response to the coronavirus outbreak.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres had called for a global ceasefire and cessation of hostilities to demonstrate unity in the fight against the pandemic. The security council resolution was in line with the UN chief’s call and intended to show global support for the call but the US wanted no reference to the WHO in it.
French diplomats reportedly thought they had engineered a compromise by changing the direct reference and calling it UN “specialised health agencies”. However, the attempt to arrive at a compromise failed and the US mission decided to block the resolution from moving towards a vote.
Recently, US State Secretary Mike Pompeo had warned that Washington may never restore the funding of WHO and could even set up an alternative body to the UN agency that will deliver on the “intended purposes”. In a radio interview on April 23, the top US diplomat hinted at a "reform" while questioning the ability of the WHO to perform its primary function.
After Pompeo’s warning, five US Republican Senators introduced a bill on May 6 to review the “accountability and effectiveness” of US participation in the WHO and other international institutions. Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with four other members introduced the Multilateral Aid Review Act of 2020 (MAR Act).
The MAR Act is aimed at establishing a task force to evaluate how well multilateral institutions carry out their missions and serve American interests and taxpayers. Announcing the bill, Risch said that it is important for the United States, as the world’s “most generous” humanitarian and development donor, to know where the taxpayers’ money is being spent.
“As we have seen most recently with questionable actions taken by the World Health Organization in response to the spread of COVID-19, it is critically important to have accountability and oversight of our assistance,” said Risch in a statement.
(Image credit: AP)