The Jakarta Post
Amid global calls for a multilateral presence and response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesia and a handful of other countries drafted on Friday a United Nations General Assembly resolution calling for global solidarity to fight the outbreak.
Indonesian representative to the UN Dian Triansyah Djani said the draft resolution by Indonesia, Ghana, Liechtenstein, Norway, Singapore and Switzerland had gained support from almost 150 UN countries.
“It is time for all of us to hold hands and address this global pandemic. Together. No one is immune,” he said on Twitter on Saturday.
Stressing the importance of multilateralism and international cooperation amid the coronavirus outbreak, the six countries, in the draft resolution, called for “intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat the pandemic, including by exchanging information, scientific knowledge and best practices, and by applying the relevant WHO [World Health Organization] recommended guidelines.”
Unlike those of the UN Security Council, any resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly's 193 members are not binding but can have strong political messages if enough countries sign on.
The draft resolution would be the first response proposed by UN member countries in the General Assembly since the WHO described the coronavirus outbreak as a pandemic on March 10.
On Saturday, acting as one of the UN General Assembly vice presidents, the Indonesian representative to the UN also participated in the first virtual meeting of General Assembly leadership to discuss its business continuity during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, in an op-ed published in The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, called for global solidarity and coordinated action against COVID-19.
“Difficult times can reveal people’s true colors,” she said, stressing that countries must not allow themselves to be divided by COVID-19 and calling for coordinated measures against it.
The first multilateral coordination over the COVID-19 pandemic took place on Thursday, when leaders of G20 countries pledged to inject over US$5 trillion into the global economy to limit job and income losses from the coronavirus in a virtual summit hosted by Saudi Arabia.
Although the group represents 85 percent of global gross domestic product (GDP), 75 percent of international trade and two-thirds of the world's population, it does not represent many of the other UN member countries that are vulnerable to the crisis.
The G20 leaders, however, expressed concern about the risks to fragile countries, notably in Africa, as well as vulnerable populations like refugees, acknowledging the need to bolster global financial safety nets and national health systems.
The coronavirus, which has killed nearly 30,000 people globally, was first detected in China’s Wuhan city late last year and has so far infected more than half a million people in at least 180 countries and territories.
At home, the government has faced a barrage of criticisms for its sluggish response to COVID-19, including a shortage of protective gear for medical workers battling the deadly coronavirus.
With 1,155 confirmed cases and 102 fatalities as of Saturday, Indonesia's death toll is now the highest in Southeast Asia and its mortality rate of 8.83 percent is among the highest in the world. The Indonesian government is also now under pressure to impose a lockdown.
Diplomatic activities at the UN headquarters in New York, meanwhile, have significantly reduced as New York state is becoming the epicenter in the United States’ coronavirus epidemic with more than 37,000 cases and 517 deaths as of Saturday, according to data compiled by the Johns Hopkins University Center for Systems Science and Engineering.
Since earlier this month, various diplomatic events have been canceled. Both the UN Security Council and UN General Assembly have announced plans to limit the number of diplomats coming to meetings. Concerns grew after it was confirmed a diplomat from the Philippines tested positive on March 12, prompting the 193-member world body to begin implementing coronavirus prevention measures at its Manhattan headquarters.
The Security Council, having held its last meeting on UN premises on March 12, has yet to produce any statement amid various procedural and political disputes.
One of the disputes was about the procedure of having virtual votes, which most members agreed on, but Russia believes the 15-member body “shouldn’t be afraid” to meet in person in the council chamber in New York, Reuters reported.
AFP reported that a draft resolution related to COVID-19's impact on "peace and security situations" is circulating between the five permanent members of the Security Council, according to a diplomat who requested anonymity.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres issued Monday an appeal for ceasefire in support of the bigger battle against COVID-19 as the common enemy that is now threatening all of humankind.