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AFP
February 27, 2021

UN adopts resolution urging equitable access to vaccines

World

AFP
February 27, 2021

UNITED NATIONS, United States: The UN Security Council gave unanimous approval on Friday to a resolution calling for improved access to Covid-19 vaccines in conflict-hit or impoverished countries, diplomats said.

It was the second resolution on the pandemic passed by the council since it began a year ago. In a rare gesture, it was co-sponsored by all 15 members of the council, diplomats said. “We are all facing the same threat, the same pandemic and international cooperation and multilateral action is needed,” one diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

“This resolution could be a step in a good direction.” The resolution required just a week of negotiations to draft, and its passage suggests the international community is moving towards unity that has been scarce since the health crisis began.

It also hints at a warming of relations here at the UN between the United States and China since President Joe Biden took office in January. Thorny issues remain, such as the origin of the virus in China and how transparent China has been in its explanations of the outbreak.

“Now, especially because of the changes in the US, I don’t see this issue to be as controversial as it was in the spring,” said another diplomat, speaking on condition of anonymity. He was referring to the arrival of Biden and a change from the harsh anti-China rhetoric of Donald Trump, who spoke of the “China virus” or “kung flu” and said China was to blame for the once in a century global health crisis.

Asked if this new spirit of unity will last, the second diplomat said: “We will see.” The first pandemic resolution passed by the council, in July of last year, needed more than three months of back and forth negotiations before it finally won approval.

The process was agonizingly slow because of disputes between the US and China. That resolution called for ceasefires in war zones to facilitate the fight against the pandemic. The new resolution approved Friday stresses “the urgent need for solidarity, equity, and efficacy” in fighting the pandemic in countries with limited access to vaccines.

The resolution “invites donation of vaccine doses from developed economies and all those in a position to do so to low- and middle-income countries and other countries in need.” It also “calls for the strengthening of national and multilateral approaches and international cooperation... in order to facilitate equitable and affordable access to Covid-19 vaccines in armed conflict situations, post-conflict situations and complex humanitarian emergencies.”

The UN says some 160 million people live in such conditions. This new draft urges Secretary General Antonio Guterres to carry out frequent assessments of obstacles to vaccine access.

It also calls on member countries to take measures to prevent speculation in and hoarding of vaccines so as to ensure access to inoculation, especially in conflict zones. Meanwhile, Israel has administered at least one Covid-19 vaccine shot to 50 percent of its 9.29 million population, while 35 percent have received the full two-dose course.

Health Minister Yuli Edelstein's on Friday count includes East l-Quds Palestinians, who have been included in the vaccine campaign that began on December 19, as part of the 9.3 million population. Palestinians in the occupied West Bank and Gaza are not part of the Israeli campaign.