U.N. General Assembly Rejects 2 Virus Resolutions

United Nations General Assembly chamber. (ChrisErbach)

The United Nations General Assembly has rejected two resolutions on the coronavirus pandemic, one from Russia and the other from Saudi Arabia. It was the second defeat for a Russian resolution on COVID-19 by the 193-member world body.

Under new voting rules instituted because the assembly isn’t holding meetings during the pandemic, a draft resolution is circulated to member nations. If a single country objects before the deadline — in this case noon EDT on Wednesday — the resolution is defeated. Normally, assembly resolutions are adopted by majority votes or by consensus.

General Assembly spokeswoman Reem Abaza confirmed objections had been raised against the Russian and Saudi draft resolutions.

The original Russian resolution, which failed to win approval on April 2, called for abandoning trade wars and protectionist measures and said no unilateral sanctions should be applied without approval from the U.N. Security Council.

The revised resolution, which was defeated Wednesday, kept the reference to ending protectionist practices and dropped the reference to unilateral sanctions. But it welcomed an April 3 statement by the main group of developing countries at the United Nations which includes a call on the international community “to adopt urgent and effective measures to eliminate the use of unilateral coercive economic measures against developing countries.”

Saudi Arabia currently chairs the Group of 20 major global economies and its draft would have welcomed their March 26 summit call for “effective and coordinated action” to fight COVID-19, and their statement “on injecting 5 trillion United States dollars into the global economy, as part of targeted fiscal policy, economic measures and guarantee schemes to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic.”

The General Assembly previously approved two resolutions on COVID-19, but the more powerful Security Council has not taken any action so far.

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