After six weeks of negotiating, the UN Security Council was close to agreeing on a resolution for a global ceasefire during the Covid-19 pandemic. Seems fair, right? Let's agree to stop killing each other for a while, so we can focus on the virus that's killing us instead?
China proposed that the text explicitly mention a commitment by member nations to support the efforts of the World Health Organization — who Donald Trump has blamed (without evidence) for withholding information on the coronavirus outbreak.
So the US looked at the resolution and said "LOL no," despite last minute efforts to reach a compromise. As The Guardian reports:
On Thursday night, French diplomats thought they had engineered a compromise in which the resolution would mention UN "specialized health agencies" (an indirect, if clear, reference to the WHO).
The Russian mission signaled that it wanted a clause calling for the lifting of sanctions that affected the delivery of medical supplies, a reference to US punitive measures imposed on Iran and Venezuela. However, most security council diplomats believed Moscow would withdraw the objection or abstain in a vote rather than risk isolation as the sole veto on the ceasefire resolution.
While everyone else seemed game to go along with these compromises, the US insisted it was one big Chinese trick. As one diplomat told CNN: "This discussion has been taken hostage by issues that do not have to do with the real issues at stake. Instead it has been transformed into a fight between the US and China. We are back to square one."
A spokesperson for the US State Department offered this as an explanation:
In our view, the goal should be to support the Secretary-General's call for a global ceasefire. Unfortunately, the PRC has been determined to use this resolution to advance false narratives about its response to the COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan. In our view, the Council should either proceed with a resolution limited to support for a ceasefire, or a broadened resolution that fully addresses the need for renewed member state commitment to transparency and accountability in the context of COVID-19.
Which still, to me, sounds like the Trump administration would rather millions of people die to stroke Trump's ego and his petty need for revenge.
US blocks vote on UN's bid for global ceasefire over reference to WHO [Julian Borger / The Guardian]
Image: Public Domain via the Obama White House