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Draft COVID-19 Resolution Submitted to UN Security Council

FILE - The U.N. Security Council is shown during a Nov. 20, 2019, meeting at U.N. headquarters.

The U.N. Security Council began work Wednesday on a draft resolution co-authored by Tunisia and France urging "enhanced coordination" and a general cessation of hostilities in conflicts on its agenda, in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.

The three-page draft, obtained by AFP, was delivered to the 15 members of the Security Council.

The draft "emphasizes the urgent need for enhanced coordination among all countries" and "demands a general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all countries" on the council agenda.

It also calls for "all parties to armed conflicts to engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 30 consecutive days."

But it exempts military operations against the Islamic State, al-Qaida and al-Nusra groups, and all "terrorist" entities listed by the Security Council.

'No negotiations as such'

Discussions will begin soon after the members have given their first comments on the text, diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

"There will be no negotiations as such," said one diplomat, adding that a vote could take place early next week.

A decisive push for the text could come at a videoconference of the leaders of the five permanent members that may be held Friday, according to Russian media.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a global cease-fire last month as the world fights the pandemic, which has forced more than half of humanity behind closed doors.

Western nations have buckled under the strain, with hospitals struggling to cope and the world facing unprecedented economic fallout.

FILE - A man wears a protective face mask as he rides a motorcycle amid fears of the spread of COVID-19 in Sanaa, Yemen, March 16, 2020.
FILE - A man wears a protective face mask as he rides a motorcycle amid fears of the spread of COVID-19 in Sanaa, Yemen, March 16, 2020.

The once-in-a-century crisis has fueled fears for millions of people living in conflict zones such as Yemen and Afghanistan, developing countries whose health care systems have already been made dysfunctional by violence and poverty.

Any break in the fighting could prove pivotal as they struggle to cope with outbreaks, allowing vital aid to reach those in need.

Slow to act

However, the Security Council has remained reticent since the start of the pandemic, silenced by strong divisions between its permanent members — notably, the United States, China and Russia.

It did not hold its first meeting devoted exclusively to the pandemic until April 9, after a push by Germany, and it did not adopt any strong stance then.

The current draft is the result of weeks-long negotiations between one side, consisting of the 10 nonpermanent members of the council, led by Tunisia, and the permanent members, led by France.

"It's very important that the Security Council speak with one voice on the current crisis that is gripping the whole world," U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric reiterated Wednesday at his daily press conference.

"We would greatly appreciate a strong voice from the Security Council," he insisted.

A paragraph in the draft relating to the World Health Organization has been left blank and will be decided at the end of the negotiations.

The WHO has been taking fire for a fortnight from the United States, which has suspended its funding for the U.N. agency in protest at what Washington says is its mishandling of the pandemic.