Context: With the inability of WHO to fight COVID-19 pandemic has come to the fore, a clamour is growing for a composite force to deal with COVID-19 on a war footing.

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  • The World Health Organisation (WHO) is responsible for monitoring threats to public health and informing and advising the member states. 
  • So far COVID-19 has spread in relatively prosperous regions which are endowed with stable infrastructure and health systems. If it spreads to less equipped regions, the devastation will be much more. 
    • For such a fight on war footing, a composite force is needed possessing the capabilities of massive sanitisation, testing, hospitalisation and providing support systems. 
  • The only UN body which has the training for assembling fighting forces for emergencies is the Department of Peace Operations. 
    • It provides political and executive direction to UN peacekeeping operations around the world and maintains contact with the Security Council, troop and financial contributors, and parties to the conflict in the implementation of Security Council mandates.

A force under Chapter VII of UN Charter

  • The mandate of the UN Charter should be interpreted in a manner that COVID-19is the greatest threat to international peace and security. 
  • The UN Security Council (UNSC) should hold an emergency meeting and authorise the UN Secretary General to put together a force under Chapter VII of the UN Charter. 
    • Member states should be requested to send not only troops, but also police, health workers and equipment.
    • In war situations, the Secretary General is able to put together a force in about four months.
  • Deploying the army internally goes against the idea of sovereignty in different political systems, but UN forces have been acceptable in most countries.

Finances of the force

  • As far as the cost is concerned, the responsibility for the deployment of forces for peacekeeping, peace building and peace enforcement is that of the permanent members (China, U.S., UK, Russia,France)


About Chapter VII resolution


Most of the resolutions under Chapter VII determine the existence of a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace, or an act of aggression in accordance with Article 39, and make a decision explicitly under Chapter VII. 

Article 39 of the UN Charter -The Security Council shall determine the existence of any threat to the peace, breach of the peace, or act of aggression and shall make recommendations, or decide what measures shall be taken in accordance with Articles 41 and 42, to maintain or restore international peace and security.

Eligibility for a UNSC resolution to be considered as Chapter VII resolution

  • A UNSC Resolution is considered to be a Chapter VII resolution if it makes an explicit determination that the situation under consideration constitutes a threat to the peace, a breach of the peace, or an act of aggression, and/or explicitly/ implicitly states that the UNSC is acting under Chapter VII in the adoption of some or all operative paragraphs.

More on Resolutions

  • Chapter VII resolutions are very rarely isolated measures. 
  • Often the first response to a crisis is a resolution demanding the crisis be ended. 
    • This is later followed by an actual resolution detailing the measures required to secure compliance with the first resolution. 
    • Sometimes dozens of resolutions are passed over time to modify and extend the mandate of the first Chapter VII resolution.


Way Forward

  • Given that the UN stands discredited today as the UNSC has not been able to meet.
  • So, the first step will be to pass a resolution to take action to end the crisis and authorise the Secretary General to request member states to make personnel available.
    •  Meanwhile, another resolution must spell out the modalities of the operation.
    • The UN peacekeeping forces are called Blue Berets because of the colour of the caps that they wear. 
    • The health force can have caps of another colour, probably red. 
  • The UN’s relevance will be established and there will be concrete action taken to end the pandemic.


Image Source: The Hindu