The world needs a strong renewed commitment to multilateralism to defeat an ever-mutating virus that does not respect borders and to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, a human rights expert told the UN General Assembly today.
“Instead of an effective global and inclusive approach, what we have is a ‘two-track pandemic,’ where high-income countries with access to vaccines are already beginning to relax safety measures, but others with no or limited access to vaccines are facing a very precarious future,” said Livingstone Sewanyana, Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order.
“The COVID-19 pandemic is the most severe crisis the world has faced since the Second World War, with almost five million people dead and more than 241 million people infected around the world,” he said in delivering a report to the General Assembly. “In just one year, there has been a staggering increase of 40 percent in the number of people needing humanitarian assistance and protection, with the figure now standing at 235 million.”
Equitable access to vaccines has been hampered by vaccine nationalism, bans on exports of raw materials for vaccines, and lack of funding for the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, the global collaboration intended to speed up development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines, he said.
Sewanyana called for comprehensive multilateral action, including adequate funding for the World Health Organization, an overhaul of the global tax system, establishment of a global fund for social protection and introduction of an emergency universal basic income.