UNSC to finally take up COVID-19 issue this week
The United Nations Security Council will reportedly take up the issue of the coronavirus pandemic this week. The development comes after attempts to hold a discussion were blocked by China, Russia, and South Africa who argued that the pandemic was not a security issue. Reportedly, the demand for a UNSC meeting on COVID-19 (Coronavirus Disease 2019) was pushed by UNSC President Dominican Republic.
Dominican Republic backed by 10 non-permanent UNSC members
According to Hindustan Times, 10 non-permanent members led up the Dominican Republic forced UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to agree to hold a closed-door informal consultation over COVID-19 this week. Sources in Washington and Delhi told HT the Dominican Republic pushed for an informal consultation on the pandemic on Friday. The Dominican Republic took over the presidency of the UNSC from China on April 1.
UNSC has 5 permanent, 10 non-permanent members
The 15-member UN Security Council has five permanent members—China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States—and 10 non-permanent members, including Vietnam, Indonesia, Germany, Belgium, Estonia, St Vincent and the Grenadines, South Africa, Niger, and Tunisia.
Calls for discussions earlier blocked by China, Russia, South Africa
China—which held the UNSC presidency till March 31—along with Russia and South Africa had earlier blocked an attempt from Estonia to hold discussions over COVID-19. Estonia had talked about more transparency and accountability over the pandemic, which would have inevitably led to discussions on China's role in the outbreak. Notably, the UNSC has tabled multiple discussions about Ebola and its impact since 2014.
Last month, Guterres called for global ceasefire amid coronavirus pandemic
Last month, Guterres had made a global call for a ceasefire on humanitarian grounds. "It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives," he had said, referring to the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 first emerged in China; quickly spread to 170+ countries
COVID-19 was first reported in China's Wuhan city late last year. The disease is caused by a novel coronavirus called SARS-CoV-2. The virus attacks a host's respiratory system triggering symptoms such as fever, cough, and breathing difficulties. In severe cases, it may cause pneumonia, multiple organ failure, or death. COVID-19 has spread to over 170 countries, killing 70,000 and sickening 12 lakh.
China faces criticism over handling of COVID-19 outbreak
China has since faced backlash for trying to silence reports on the outbreak. Whistleblowing doctors were threatened with administrative action. China has also been accused of initially spreading misinformation, denying human-human transmission, until after the disease reached other countries.