The United Nations General Assembly on Monday night passed a resolution urging international cooperation to ensure global access to medical resources to defeat the coronavirus pandemic.
The resolution calls for global action to ramp up development, manufacturing and access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment in the fight against the virus.
As of Monday, the confirmed cases and deaths from COVID-19 stood at no fewer than 2,314,621 and 157,847 respectively, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
The resolution requests UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres to work closely with the WHO and other relevant agencies of the UN in recommending options to rapidly scale up manufacturing and strengthening of medical supply chains.
This is to ensure fair, transparent, equitable, efficient and timely access to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment “with a view to making them available to all those in need, in particular in developing countries”.
It also urges member states to work with all relevant stakeholders to increase research and development funding for vaccines and medicines, leverage digital technologies and strengthen scientific international cooperation necessary to combat COVID-19.
The resolution reaffirms the “fundamental role of the UN system in coordinating the global response to control and contain the spread of COVID-19 and in supporting the 193 UN member states.
In this regard, the Mexican-drafted resolution acknowledges the crucial leading role played by the WHO in the fight against the pandemic.
It urges all member states to immediately act within their “respective legal frameworks” to prevent speculation and “undue stockpiling that may hinder access to safe, effective and affordable essential medicines, vaccines, personal protective equipment and medical equipment.”
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the United States did not oppose the resolution, which came a few days after President Donald Trump announced suspension of funding to the WHO.
Trump’s decision followed accusations by U.S. politicians that the global health body turned a blind eye to China’s lack of transparency in the outbreak of the virus on its shores in December.
Since the suspension of in-person meetings over the pandemic, the UN General Assembly has been operating what it calls “silence procedure” in the adoption of resolutions.
This entails circulation of draft resolutions to member states, and if a single country objects before the deadline, the resolution is defeated.
Normally, the Assembly’s resolutions are adopted by majority votes or by consensus during plenary.
On Monday night, Amb. Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, Nigeria’s ambassador to the UN and President of the General Assembly, sent a letter to the 193 UN member states saying there were no objections to the resolution.
NAN reports that this is the second resolution by the Assembly on COVID-19 after the first one on April 2 that called for
“intensified international cooperation to contain, mitigate and defeat” the virus.
Meanwhile, Muhammad-Bande has announced the appointment of co-coordinators for the General Assembly’s approaches and initiatives aimed at defeating the pandemic.
The appointees are Mrs Adela Raz and Mr Ivan Šimonović, Permanent Representatives of Afghanistan and Croatia, respectively, to the UN.
They are to engage with member states to “facilitate exchange of views, coordinate approaches and initiatives and leverage the influence of the Assembly to effectively advocate for measures aimed at defeating COVID-19”.