Indian and 168 other countries on Friday voted in favour of a United Nations General Assembly resolution that recognised the coronavirus as one of the greatest challenges in the world and endorsed the role of World Health Organization in handling the pandemic, PTI reported. The United States and Israel objected opposed the resolution.

“The Omnibus Resolution on Comprehensive and Coordinated Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic” also reaffirmed commitment of countries to multilateral cooperation and solidarity as the only way to respond to the pandemic.

Ukraine and Hungary abstained from voting.

After the resolution was adopted, India’s Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN Ambassador K Nagaraj Naidu tweeted, “India votes in favour of the #Covid-19 omnibus resolution in the [United Nations] General Assembly recognising the pandemic as one of the greatest global challenges that calls for a global response based on unity, solidarity and multilateral cooperation.”

Afghanistan’s UN envoy Adela Raz and Croatian Ambassador Ivan Simonovic were co-coordinators of the resolution. It urged political and religious figures to promote inclusion and unity and stop and take action against hate speech, discrimination, xenophobia, racism and violence.

The resolution also supported Secretary-General Antonio Guterres’ call for an immediate global ceasefire, including to help create windows for the diplomacy of dialogue.

The US, which voted against the legally non-binding resolution, said it did not agree with the reference to the WHO and accused China of hiding the truth about the virus that began in its city of Wuhan.

“Unfortunately, we might never know for certain how much of the pain and suffering caused by Covid-19 could have been avoided if the Chinese Communist Party had behaved like a responsible government and immediately warned the rest of the world of the virus that they uncovered in Wuhan,” the US Mission to the UN said. “Not only did they fail the world, but the World Health Organization’s failures in the early days of the pandemic also contributed to needless suffering and the worsening of this pandemic.” It added that the WHO needs reform, including showing its independence from China.

The US argued that the resolution attempts to undermine the ability to countries to respond to acts that are offensive to international norms. The country said that economic sanctions were legitimate means of achieving foreign policy, adding that the US was not alone in believing or practicing this.

The US officially pulled out of the WHO, it had said in a notification of July 7. The country was the largest contributor to the global agency and had contributed $400 million (approximately Rs 3,040 crore) to the organisation last year – nearly 15% of its entire budget. US President Donald Trump had said the country did not want to work with the global health body, claiming that it had deliberately covered up the early days of the pandemic to support China. The WHO has refuted Trump’s claims.

Globally, the coronavirus has infected more than 2.83 crore people and killed 9,13,015 so far, according to the Johns Hopkins University.