The Security Council, in a 1 July videoconference meeting*, announced its decision to adopt a resolution expressing its support for the Secretary-General’s appeal for a global ceasefire, which he issued in March to help unite efforts to fight COVID-19 in the most vulnerable countries.
In unanimously adopting resolution 2532 (2020), the Council demanded a general and immediate cessation of hostilities in all situations on its agenda and supports the efforts undertaken by the Secretary-General and his Special Representatives and Special Envoys in that respect.
The 15-member organ called upon all parties to armed conflicts to engage immediately in a durable humanitarian pause for at least 90 consecutive days, to enable the safe, unhindered and sustained delivery of humanitarian assistance, and provision of related services by impartial humanitarian actors, in accordance with the humanitarian principles of humanity, neutrality, impartiality and independence. The pause would also enable medical evacuations, in accordance with international law, including international humanitarian and refugee law as applicable.
However, the Council affirmed that the general and immediate cessation of hostilities and humanitarian pause does not apply to military operations against Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL/Da’esh), Al-Qaida and Al-Nusra Front, and all other individuals, groups, undertakings and entities associated with Al-Qaida or ISIL, and other Council-designated terrorist groups.
The Council requested the Secretary-General to help ensure that all relevant parts of the United Nations system, including country teams, accelerate their response to the COVID-19 pandemic with an emphasis on countries in need, including those in situations of armed conflict or affected by humanitarian crises.
The 15-member organ also requested the Secretary-General to provide updates on the Organization’s efforts to address the coronavirus in countries facing situations of armed conflict or affected by humanitarian crises, as well as on the impact of COVID-19 on the ability of peacekeeping operations and special political missions to deliver their mandated priority tasks.
Furthermore, it requested the Secretary-General to instruct peacekeeping operations to provide support, within their mandates and capacities, to host country authorities in their efforts to contain the pandemic.
The Council also acknowledged the critical role that women play in COVID-19 response efforts, as well as the disproportionate negative impact of the pandemic, notably the socioeconomic impact, on women and girls, children, refugees, internally displaced persons, older persons and persons with disabilities. It called for concrete actions to minimize this impact and ensure the full, equal and meaningful participation of women and youth in the development and implementation of an adequate and sustainable response to the pandemic. •
* Security Council resolutions are currently adopted through a written procedure vote under temporary, extraordinary and provisional measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, as set out in a letter (document S/2020/253) by its President for March (China).
km. On 11 July the United Nations Security Council adopted a resolution extending authorisation of a mechanism that brings life-saving humanitarian aid into Syria for another year, through one Turkish border crossing.
The text received 12 votes in favour to none against, with 3 abstentions (China, Dominican Republic, Russian Federation). The resolution is a compromise, the result of a hard struggle in the Security Council. In the days before, Russia and China had vetoed the draft resolutions submitted by Germany and Belgium.
Russia is in favour of phasing out the mechanism for cross-border delivery of humanitarian aid to Syria. In order to help the population in areas not controlled by the government, it has so far been appropriate to deliver humanitarian aid via Syria’s neighbouring countries. Now, however, the situation on the ground has changed, the Syrian army is bringing more and more areas under its control and the mechanism is no longer necessary. Humanitarian aid should now be delivered via Damascus.
The Permanent Mission of Russia to the United Nations had pointed out on 10 July that the mechanism for crossborder delivery of humanitarian aid had been established in 2014 as an exceptional measure. At that time, the mechanism represented a compromise to solve the problems within the conflictridden country and alleviate the plight of those in need. However, there was no doubt that it “was contrary to the principles of international humanitarian law and undermined Syrian sovereignty”.
Even after the adoption of the resolution, most Western media and politicians still put Russia and China in the dock. Both states would prevent humanitarian aid for millions of people in northern Syria. Russia’s position is mostly not presented.
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