Saudi Arabia’s proposed resolution on coronavirus blocked at UN by Syria and Iran

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Syria and Iran on Wednesday blocked adoption of a Saudi-proposed resolution in the UN General Assembly calling for global cooperation to counter the coronavirus pandemic its socio-economic fallout, diplomats said.

The Saudi Arabia text largely reflected the conclusions of a March 26 summit of the G20, which Saudi Arabia currently chair.

Also Wednesday, a Russian-proposed text on the pandemic was blocked by European countries and the US, diplomats said.

The text sought a commitment from UN member states “to face global challenges as good neighbors, refraining from implementing protectionist and discriminatory measures inconsistent with the World Trade Organization rules.”

On April 3, Russia had already suffered the rejection of a draft resolution it submitted seeking the lifting of international sanctions while the world fights the pandemic.

Besides the US and EU countries, this latest Russian move was also blocked by two key US allies, Israel and South Korea.

The General Assembly cannot meet in New York because of the global health crisis so in late March it came up with a new way of considering resolutions.

When a text is proposed, after a waiting period, if no country objects it is classified as being approved.

If there are objections, then the text is defeated. This is what happened Wednesday with the Saudi Arabian and Russian draft resolutions.

Unlike votes held before the pandemic, which required a majority, this new system effectively gives all 193 UN members veto power over a given text.

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