UN General Assembly calls for swift global access to coronavirus vaccinations

20 April 2020

The United Nations General Assembly is asking the Secretary-General to look into ways to ensure that all those in need - particularly in the developing world – get free, fair and swift access to vaccines, and other medicines, to combat the COVID-19 virus.

It spelled out the request in a resolution that was adopted on Monday, through the so-called “silence procedure” that it has put into place for the duration of the novel coronavirus crisis.

Go to our UN News story here, for an explanation of how the world body of 193 Member States, is navigating the challenges of meeting during the pandemic.

Recognizing the impact that the pandemic will have on progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals, the Assembly reaffirmed the fundamental role of the United Nations system in coordinating the global response to the pandemic.

Free access for all

It requested the Secretary-General to identify options and make recommendations for fair, equitable, transparent and timely access to future COVID-19 vaccines - as well as diagnostic tools and medical supplies - “with a view to making them available to all those in need, in particular in developing countries”.

He should do so, it said, in close collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO) and other parts of the United Nations system, including international financial institutions.

Turning to Member States, the Assembly encouraged them to ramp up funding for research and development into COVID-19 vaccines and medicines, in addition to leveraging digital technologies and strengthening international scientific cooperation.

It similarly encouraged countries to bolster coordination – including with the private sector – to rapidly develop, produce and distribute antiviral medicines, diagnostic tools, personal protective equipment and vaccines, “adhering to the objectives of efficacy, safety, equity, accessibility, and affordability”.

Stop stockpiling of PPE

It also called upon Member States and others, within their legal frameworks, to act immediately to prevent speculation in - and stockpiling of - essential medicines, vaccines, personal protective equipment and medical gear.

It went on to request the Secretary-General, again in close collaboration with the WTO, to consider setting up an inter-agency task force within the United Nations system to follow up on the Organization’s efforts to ensure global access to the medicines, vaccines and medical equipment required to face the pandemic.

Unable to meet in person as usual at United Nations Headquarters in New York, the Assembly decided on 27 March to introduce special working methods that enable it to adopt draft resolutions if no Member State raised concerns - or “breaks silence” – over a 72-hour period once a text has been put before them.

The extraordinary measure, designed to enable the Assembly to carry on its essential work as the crisis unfolds, shall remain in effect until 31 May unless it is otherwise extended.


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