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UN issues its first coronavirus resolution as global cases surpass 1 million

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Issued on: 03/04/2020 – 05:35Modified: 03/04/2020 – 05:36

The UN General Assembly on Thursday approved a resolution calling for "international cooperation" and "multilateralism" in the fight against Covid-19, in the first text to come out of the international body since the outbreak began.

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The resolution, which was approved by consensus, also stresses "the need for full respect for human rights" and that "there is no place for any form of discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the response to the pandemic".

Russia was unsuccessful in opposing the resolution with its own text that was supported by four other countries.

The UN resolution stresses the central role of the body in the global health and economic crisis. It was submitted by Switzerland, Indonesia, Singapore, Norway, Liechtenstein and Ghana, and adopted by 188 of the 193 states that make up the body, diplomats said.

The Russian text – which also discussed cooperation but included an implicit demand for a general lifting of international sanctions, seen as a brake on efforts to fight the virus – was supported by the Central African Republic, Cuba, Nicaragua and Venezuela.

Unlike the UN Security Council, the resolutions adopted by the General Assembly are not binding but have a strong political value depending on their support.

The one million mark

The resolution came as the number of confirmed coronavirus cases around the world soared past one million on Thursday and deaths topped 50,000 as Europe reeled from the pandemic and the United States reported the highest daily death toll so far of any country.

Despite more than half the planet imposing some form of lockdown, the virus claimed thousands more lives, with the US, Spain and Britain seeing the highest number of daily fatalities yet.

According to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, the coronavirus is "the most challenging crisis we have faced since the Second World War".

Just last week, as the pandemic spread around the world, killing thousands and infecting many more, Guterres warned that unless the world came together to fight the virus, millions of people could die.

On March 23, he called for an "immediate global ceasefire" to protect vulnerable civilians in conflict zones from the ravages of the pandemic.

Few countries have heeded his appeal.

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