UNITED NATIONS (AFP) — China has canceled a U.N Security Council meeting scheduled for Thursday in coronavirus-stricken New York as it seeks to encourage “votes by writing” while the pandemic rages, diplomatic sources said Wednesday.
The Security Council, currently chaired by China, has not met since March 12 due to the outbreak and is deeply divided over a proposed declaration on the crisis and holding virtual meetings to vote on resolutions.
Council votes are usually taken by a show of hands, allowing for last-minute negotiations. Thursday’s meeting was to renew the mandate of U.N. experts responsible for sanctions imposed on North Korea and to extend the peace mission in Somalia. Those votes will be postponed, according to a diplomat who spoke on condition of anonymity.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has not shuttered the organization’s headquarters in New York, but the city is under a stay-at-home order issued by the governor.
New York state is the epicenter of America’s pandemic, with more than 30,000 declared cases.
Many members have said that a mixed process is being created, using videos to present their positions and sending statements by email before a vote.
But Russia, a veto-wielding permanent member, has refused to entertain the idea of virtual votes, and has demanded that the council meet physically if a vote is needed.
The council met for the first time in its history via videoconference Tuesday for informal talks on the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Similar discussions on Libya, Syria and Afghanistan are scheduled, but media will not be given access. Asked why, Chinese spokesman Han Xu said “the system is not accessible to media and the public as a limited number of people can be online at the same time.”
© Agence France-Presse