US, Israel vote against UN text on pandemic

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The United States was supported only by Israel in a vote on Friday against a UN resolution for a "comprehensive and coordinated response" to the COVID-19 pandemic.
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The United States was supported only by Israel in a vote on Friday against a UN resolution for a “comprehensive and coordinated response” to the COVID-19 pandemic, a text that included recognition of the WHO’s leadership role.

The measure, which has been negotiated since May, was adopted by an overwhelming majority of 169 countries out of 193, with Ukraine and Hungary abstaining.

The text, called an omnibus resolution because it covers multiple aspects of the pandemic, “acknowledges the key leadership role of WHO and the fundamental role of the United Nations system in catalyzing and coordinating the comprehensive global response to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The United States withdrew from the WHO this spring, accusing the body of mismanaging the coronavirus pandemic.

The text “calls for intensified international cooperation and solidarity to contain, mitigate and overcome the pandemic and its consequences.”

And it supports UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call in March for a cease-fire between countries in order to better facilitate the fight against the pandemic — a request that has been little followed.

It calls on member states and all relevant actors to promote inclusion and unity in response to COVID-19 and to prevent, speak out and take strong action against racism, xenophobia, hate speech, violence and discrimination.

The text additionally calls for “the urgent removal of unjustified obstacles,” meaning sanctions, in order to create better access to products used in combatting the virus.

It requests nations to maintain food and agricultural supply chains and encourages syncing economic recovery strategies to promote sustainable development and combat climate change.

Ahead of the vote, the United States unsuccessfully attempted to remove a paragraph on protecting women in the area of sexual and reproductive health, over objections about abortion.

Libya and Iraq also voted for the paragraph’s removal. However, more than 120 countries voted to keep it and 25 countries abstained.

The resolution also urges member states to enable all countries to have unhindered, timely access to quality, safe, efficacious and affordable diagnosis, therapeutics, medicines and vaccines for the COVID-19 response.

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