UK pushes at UN for rich states to share COVID-19 vaccine with poor

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Britain has circulated a draft resolution to members of the UN Security Council calling on rich countries to donate doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to poorer and war-torn states, according to a text of the draft seen by AFP Friday.

The resolution, submitted Thursday by Britain to the other 14 members of the Security Council, “emphasizes the need for solidarity, equity, and efficacy and invites donation of vaccine doses from developed economies to low- and middle-income countries and other countries in need.”

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The draft resolution was announced Wednesday by Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab during a session of the Security Council, and estimates that around 160 million people worldwide are living in a conflict zone or unstable circumstances that puts them at risk of not receiving a vaccination.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (File photo: AFP)
Britain’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab (File photo: AFP)

The text “calls for the strengthening of national and multilateral approaches and international cooperation... in order to facilitate equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines including in armed conflict situations.”

It also “demands that all parties to armed conflicts engage immediately in a durable, extensive, and sustained humanitarian pause to enable, inter alia, COVID-19 vaccinations in areas of armed conflict.”

It calls on UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who this week denounced the “wildly uneven and unfair” distribution of vaccines around the world, “to report on the implementation of this resolution, in particular a full assessment of all the impediments to the COVID-19 response, including vaccination programs, in countries in situations of armed conflict and complex humanitarian emergencies, as necessary and at least every 90 days.”

Last year, it took the Security Council, stalemated by Chinese-US rivalry, three months to adopt its one and only resolution to date on the pandemic, which called upon warring factions to halt operations to allow for a vaccine to be distributed.

London hopes its resolution will be adopted in the coming weeks.

But Russia could be difficult to convince after stating this week that the issue of vaccines did not fall within the ambit of the Security Council.

Meanwhile, a 34-year-old Canadian announced her plans to challenge the 71-year-old Guterres for the position of UN secretary-general when his current term expires in January 2022.

Arora Akanksha, who was born in India and currently works in the UN development agency, said in a letter that the United Nations was “not living up to our purpose or our promise. We are failing those we are here to serve. We are here to solve humanitarian crises, not perpetuate them.”

Brenden Varma, spokesman for the president of the UN General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, stressed that “individuals could only become candidates once their names were circulated to Member States by the Presidents of the General Assembly and Security Council.”

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As of Friday, no other candidates aside from Guterres had been announced by the UN, although the organization’s pick likely will not be announced until the summer.

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