World leaders met on Monday practically on the 75th anniversary of the United Nations as the deadly coronavirus pandemic and tensions between the United States and China challenged the effectiveness and solidarity of the 193-member panel.
When COVID-19 spread around the world earlier this year, forcing millions of people to seek refuge at home and devastating economies, countries turned inward and diplomats said the United Nations struggled to turn claim.
Long-simmering tensions between the United States and China reached the boiling point of the pandemic and highlighted Beijing’s quest for greater multilateral influence as a challenge to traditional Washington leadership.
The coronavirus emerged in China late last year, and Washington has accused Beijing of a lack of transparency that made the outbreak worse. China denies US claims.
China’s President Xi Jinping said in a blatant blow to the United States on Monday, “No country has the right to rule global affairs, control the fate of others, or keep development advantages to itself. Even less should it be.” can do what it wants and be the hegemon, tyrant or boss of the world. Unilateralism is a dead end. “
Xi’s remarks were not included in the video he recorded for the meeting. They were included in a lengthy statement that the United States’ Chinese mission was presented to the world body.
China has portrayed itself as the cheerleader of multilateralism as President Donald Trump’s disregard for international cooperation led Washington to renounce the global climate and Iran agreements and leave the United States Human Rights Council and the World Health Organization (WHO).
US Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Cherith Norman Chalet, told the General Assembly that the world organization has proven itself to be a “successful experiment” in many ways, but “there are also reasons for concern”.
“The United Nations has resisted major reforms for too long, too often lacking transparency, and being too vulnerable to the agendas of autocratic regimes and dictatorships,” she said.
The U.S. withdrawal from WHO came after Trump accused the agency of being a puppet of China, a claim the WHO denied.
“YOU AND US”
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the “growing discord” in the international community was sparked by the fact that some countries interfered in the internal affairs of other states and imposed unilateral sanctions – a veiled dig in Washington.
The pandemic has exposed the world‘s fragility, said United States Secretary-General Antonio Guterres. “Today we have an excess of multilateral challenges and a deficit of multilateral solutions,” he said.
It took the Security Council months to endorse a Guterres call for a global ceasefire – so countries can focus on fighting COVID-19 – due to disputes between China and the United States.
Chancellor Angela Merkel said that the interests of individual member states “too often” forced the United Nations to fall short of its ideals.
“Those who believe that they can get along better on their own are wrong. We share our wellbeing – including our suffering. We are one world,” she told the General Assembly.
Several leaders called for reform of the United Nations, and in particular of the 15-member Security Council, arguing that it was unfair that the United States, Russia, China, France and the UK were the only permanent veto powers.
“A council structure that leaves the fate of more than 7 billion people to the mercy of five countries is neither fair nor sustainable,” said Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan.
Monday’s one-day special precedes the annual meeting of world leaders at the United Nations, which begins Tuesday in New York with no President or Prime Minister physically present. All statements have been recorded and will be broadcast in the general assembly hall.
The United Nations was formed when countries after World War II came together to prevent another such conflict. Although there was no third world war, the heads of state and government passed a statement on Monday recognizing “moments of disappointment”.
“All of this requires more action, not less,” the statement said.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and posted from a syndicated feed.)