To fight the global spread of the novel coronavirus and help prevent future biothreats, US Senator Edward J. Markey, member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, was joined by a group of his colleagues in calling on President Donald Trump to introduce a United Nations (UN) Security Council resolution that declares pandemics a clear threat to international peace and security and urge action on the resolution as soon as the Security Council reconvenes. The Senators outline that a Security Council Resolution should include “binding commitments for UN-member nations to align their health preparedness frameworks with best international practices and reiterate the responsibility states have to protect the health of stateless refugees and those who face extreme humanitarian need.”
For more than seven decades, the U.S. has rallied the world to combat threats through its position on the United Nations Security Council – from countering the rise in global extremism to preventing the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The Senators argue that the indiscriminate nature of global pandemics should spur the Trump administration to continue America’s leadership in times of global emergency, not to engage in inward-facing xenophobia.
“Your Administration still has an opportunity to be a global leader in the fight against COVID-19,” write the Senators in their letter to President Trump. “It is only through U.S.-led global action that we will overcome this challenge and be better positioned to face the inevitable and indiscriminate global health emergency of tomorrow. The United States must lead the Security Council in the adoption of measures that can save countless lives and limit instability, to the benefit of all nations.”
In their letter, the Senators outline a UN Security Council Resolution that should:
- Affirm that pandemics, which disrupt global commerce, imperil vulnerable displaced persons, and exacerbate humanitarian need, pose a threat to international peace and security, and should require steps to mitigate those harms;
- Affirm the responsibility of all UN Member States to protect refugees and asylum seekers, international displaced persons, and the food insecure – all whose circumstances leave them especially vulnerable to pandemics; and
- Mandate that, in the event of a declared health emergency, all countries ensure on-the-ground access by World Health Organization (WHO) officials, as well as require that all countries transparently disseminate timely public health information to the WHO and to their own people.
Also signing the letter are Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass), Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), and Tina Smith (D-Minn).
Any resolution adopted by the UN Security Council under Chapter 7 of the UN Charter would mandate that each country’s laws follow the best practices put out by the WHO and create a regular reporting mechanism to grade compliance in order to “facilitate the early detection of novel diseases and reduce the risk of their spread to other countries.” A resolution would also create a binding obligation on all countries to protect and aid the 70 million displaced persons, all of whom are exceptionally vulnerable to a novel coronavirus outbreak.