Leading NGOs criticise UN over ‘shameful’ inaction towards Covid-19 crisis

United Nations headquarters in New York.
United Nations headquarters in New York. © BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI, AFP

Leading non-governmental organisations on Tuesday blasted the UN Security Council's "shameful" inaction towards the Covid-19 crisis, especially over a call for truces in some conflict zones during the pandemic.


United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres called for ceasefires in fighting around the world two months ago.

But the Security Council – debilitated by a confrontation between China and the United States – has failed to agree on a resolution supporting the initiative in the conflicts which fall under its mandate, the NGOs said in a statement.

"The paralysis of the Security Council in the face of Covid is shameful. To millions of people, it is also incomprehensible," said David Miliband, CEO of the International Rescue Committee.

For Rob Malley, president and CEO of the International Crisis Group, Washington and Beijing "have treated these negotiations as an opportunity for a blame-game over the origins of Covid-19 rather than an opening to make a straightforward call for a reduction in violence during the pandemic."

Neither country "seems able or willing to show leadership at the UN during a global crisis," Malley said.

Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children, said the Security Council "has a historic opportunity to stop the fighting globally and to ensure aid workers have full access to those most in need."

Security Council negotiations have been at an impasse since May 8, when Washington rejected compromise text proposed by France and Tunisia which would urge a halt to fighting in countries like Afghanistan and Yemen.

The United States is rejecting any mention of the World Health Organization in the resolution, while China has threatened to veto any resolution that does not reference the WHO.

Guterres's wider call has the support of 200 NGOs and individually some 140 countries of the 193 UN members.

Unlike the Security Council, the UN General Assembly has adopted two pandemic-related resolutions, one on April 3 aimed at strengthening international cooperation and the other on April 20 to call for equal access to any future vaccines.


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