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UNSC President Estonia calls the Security Council’s handling of COVID-19 “a shame”

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Estonia, the president of the United Nations Security Council for May, said it was a “shame” that the powerful UN body did not fulfill its responsibility in tackling the COVID-19 outbreak and slammed “stumbling blocks” in passing a resolution on the pandemic.

“I think it is a shame that we have not been able to take the leadership. There are certain reasons for that. But Estonia has been one of the most active in pushing very strongly for more than a month already to be there, and for the Security Council to stand where it should stand,” said Ambassador Sven J rgenson, permanent representative of the Republic of Estonia to the United Nations and president of the Security Council for May on Friday.

During a virtual press briefing, J rgenson responded to questions on the lack of action by the council to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and its failure to adopt a single resolution on the global crisis.

The ambassador said he personally hoped that a Security Council resolution on COVID-19 would have been voted two or three weeks ago.

He said a vote on the resolution might happen now, it might happen next week .

There are stumbling blocks. The situation is blocked at the moment. But the talks are very intensely continuing and they are continuing at a high level and I hope that we can really come out of the gridlock, Jrgenson said.

Two separate resolutions — one by the five permanent members of the council drafted by France and one by the elected 10 non-permanent members drafted by Tunisia — have now been combined and there is one resolution on the table, J rgenson said, adding that there is still no consensus on the draft due to differences between two permanent members – referring to the US and China.

“There are some political differences between some security council member states. The work is continuing. I hope that these differences will be resolved as swiftly as possible,” he said.

Stating that the council is responsible to deal with the crisis, J rgenson said the other members were looking forward to moving ahead with the resolution

I know very well as a member of the council (of) the responsibility we have. I know the world is looking up to us and I really truly hope that as a president of the council, I will be able to in some way facilitate and help to get this thing moving,” he said.

The coronavirus, which first surfaced in China’s Wuhan city in December last, has claimed over 238,000 lives and infected 3.3 million people across the world.

The 15-nation UN Council is yet to adopt a single resolution on the crisis despite weeks of negotiations.

According to some media reports, diplomats say a key sticking point between the US and China is related to the World Health Organization (WHO) in the council resolution.

Washington has strongly criticised the WHO for its handling of the coronavirus outbreak. US President Donald Trump last month stopped American funds to the specialised UN agency.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, in response to a question on global leadership dealing with the pandemic during a press conference this week, said, “It is obvious that there is a lack of leadership. It is obvious the international community is divided in a moment where it would be more important than ever to be united. There is, indeed, a problem of leadership or, if you want, a disconnect between leadership and power.

“We see remarkable examples of leadership, but they are usually not associated with power. And where we see power, we sometimes do not see the necessary leadership. I hope this will be overcome sooner rather than later,” the UN Chief said.

The draft resolution by Tunisia on behalf of the 10 non-permanent members calls for “an urgent, coordinated and united international action to curb the impact of COVID-19.

The French resolution focusses on Guterres’s call for a global ceasefire as part of a “humanitarian pause” to combat the pandemic.

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