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Guterres calls for ‘renewed approach to multilateralism’, through new peacebuilding appeal

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 26: Against the backdrop of a COVID-19 crisis that has exacerbated pre-pandemic challenges and a global ceasefire appeal to combat it, the UN chief called for new peacebuilding funds on Tuesday, promising a “renewed approach to multilateralism and international cooperation”.

“An approach that goes beyond crisis response and boosts long-term investments in prevention and peacebuilding, hand-in-hand with our efforts to deliver the Sustainable Developments Goals (SDGs)”, Secretary-General António Guterres told the High-level Replenishment Conference for the UN Peacebuilding Fund (PBF), which requires $1.5B for 2020-2024.

The “scale of turmoil…requires concerted efforts to ease tensions and prevent further escalation”, explained the top UN official.

He underscored the need for increased support to women and young people “as agents for peace and stewards of inclusive development”, maintaining that without their participation, “neither peace nor prosperity can be sustainable”.

When aligned with both the UN’s and individual national priorities, the PBF and Peacebuilding Commission engagement, “can be invaluable”, according to the Secretary-General.

He gave a first-hand account of how the PBF had helped to stabilize Bambari in the Central African Republic (CAR), including through a combination of cash-for-work, rehabilitation, socio-economic revitalization and support to local peace committees.

In fragile contexts, peacebuilding requires “political courage and leadership” at national and local levels, and “the right support at the right time” from the international community, the UN chief attested.

“We need to take risks for peace…and space to seize opportunities”, he said. “We have a responsibility to bring down the institutional siloes” and join the full range of UN capacities.

“The Peacebuilding Fund aims to do just that”, upheld the top diplomat.

The UN chief lauded the value of the PBF, noting that it prioritizes risky or underfunded areas; mobilizes vital additional funding at national and regional levels; fosters joint action across the UN system; and enables partnerships with a wide range of participants, “often kick-starting initiatives that others can scale up”.

Moreover, he maintained that with additional resources, the Fund could promote coordination between the UN and other development partners and help to finance transitions as large peace operations draw down.

“In a global context with significant volatility, the Fund’s flexibility is vital”, Guterres stated, flagging the UN’s COVID-19 response with national partners and UN Resident Coordinators (heads of UN Country Teams) to adjust ongoing programmes and emerging prevention priorities.

Yet, despite its impact and cost-effectiveness, the PBF is repeatedly short funded.

In 2020, the Peacebuilding Fund mobilized more than $180 million – delivering in the most difficult contexts.

“But its resources are now depleted”, the UN chief said. “We must urgently replenish it” to save lives and demonstrate multilateral support.

A contribution from all Member States and partners would provide a “quantum leap” and signal that together, “we can successfully invest in building and sustaining peace”.

“I urge those that have not yet contributed, in particular Members of the Security Council and the Peacebuilding Commission, to act on your commitments and provide a contribution to this essential global instrument for peace”, the Secretary concluded.

At the close of the conference, the co-chairs issued a Joint Communiqué stating that the General Assembly would convene a High-Level meeting on financing peace during its 76th session.

Until then, the UN bodies, including the Peacebuilding Commission, will work with Member States and others to advance realistic options for sustained and predictable peacebuilding financing.

Including the funds received for 2020, 39 Member States have contributed or pledged over $439 million to the Fund’s 2020-2024 Strategy.

The co-chairs also welcomed the unanimous recognition of the PBF’s role and impact as “a strong sign of multilateral solidarity at a critical moment and a firm vote of confidence in the catalytic role played by the Fund”.

Security Council reforms must reflect 21st century realities, says UN Assembly President

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 26: The President of the General Assembly, on Monday, underscored the importance of effectiveness and efficiency for all bodies of the United Nations so that the Organization can deliver results for people everywhere.

Volkan Bozkir highlighted that in its 75th year, the UN is more crucial than ever, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“That, of course, includes the work of the Security Council, a main organ of the UN, with primary responsibility for the maintenance of international peace and security, a central mission of the United Nations,” he said.

“It is more crucial than ever that our efforts are efficient and effective and that the United Nations, including the Security Council, is fit for purpose, so we can best deliver for those we serve,” Bozkir noted, adding that it is also vital for the Organization’s reputation.

Bozkir was speaking at an informal plenary meeting of the General Assembly on intergovernmental negotiations on Security Council reform. Due to COVID-19 mitigation measures, only a limited number of delegates attended the meeting in person at the General Assembly Hall. Others joined via video links.

In his remarks, the President of the General Assembly also said that it is crucial that any reforms to the Security Council reflect the realities of the 21st century.

“The implementation of the Council’s decisions, and its very legitimacy, could be enhanced if the Council was reformed to be more representative, effective, efficient, accountable and transparent,” he said.

“Discussions among Member States on how to take into account the principles of democracy and representation in pursuing the objective of a more democratic Security Council are essential,” Bozkir added.

He also recalled the five clusters identified in the General Assembly decision 62/557 regarding reforms. The clusters include: categories of membership; the question of the veto; regional representation; size of an enlarged Security Council and its working methods; and relationship between the General Assembly and the Security Council.

The Security Council is comprised of 15 members: five permanent, China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; and ten non-permanent, elected for two-year terms. The five permanent members wield the “veto power”, the ability to block the passing of a Security Council resolution, even if a majority of the members support its adoption.

Noting also that the framework of the intergovernmental negotiations offered the most appropriate platform to pursue reform, he urged all delegations to engage constructively.

“The success of these negotiations and of any reforms of course depends on you, Member States. It is your contributions, through negotiations and other discussions, that ultimately can lead the way towards meaningful reform of the Council,” he added.

“I ask all delegations to utilize the opportunity, that this [intergovernmental negotiations] session provides to engage constructively. We must give this process a chance,” Bozkir said.

In Davos speech, UN chief highlights private sector role in pandemic recovery

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 25: The private sector has a key role to play in lifting countries out of both the COVID-19 and climate crises, UN Secretary-General António Guterres told international business leaders on Monday.

“We need you more than ever to help us change course, end fragility, avert climate catastrophe and build the equitable and sustainable future we want and need”, he said in a speech to the Davos Agenda gathering of the World Economic Forum, which is taking place online this year instead of in the Swiss Alps.

The Secretary-General addressed the forum as the UN released its latest report which warns that global economic recovery from the pandemic remains precarious.

COVID-19 has generated the worst economic crisis for nearly a century, exposing inequalities and fragilities both within and among countries, Guterres said, speaking from New York.

“We have reached a moment of truth. In 2021 we must address these fragilities and put the world on track”, he stated.

“It is time to change course and take the sustainable path. And, this year, we have a unique opportunity to do so. We can use our recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic to move from fragilities to resilience.”

The Secretary-General emphasized that pandemic recovery must be inclusive while also tackling climate change and biodiversity loss.

“Inclusive and sustainable recovery around the globe will depend on the availability and effectiveness of vaccines for all, immediate fiscal and monetary support in both developed and developing countries, and transformative longer-term stimulus measures”, he said.

While COVID-19 vaccines have been developed, distribution has been uneven, he said, as richer nations have received doses while the world’s poorest countries have none.

Reiterating that vaccines must be seen as global public goods, he called for funding for the COVAX Facility, the mechanism working to ensure equal access to all countries.

Guterres also underlined the need to address structural inequalities that have made so many societies vulnerable, including through debt relief for countries that need it.

“We also need to bring more fairness into the world of work”, he added. “That means that we reduce the very high increase disparities we have in incomes today in the labour markets. And it means closing the gender pay gap, ensuring women’s full and productive employment and increasing women’s participation in decision-making at all levels.”

On climate change, the Secretary-General stressed that the central goal this year is to build a global coalition to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050.

“Every country, city, financial institution and company needs to adopt credible plans backed by intermediate goals for transitioning to net zero emissions by 2050, and to take decisive action now to put themselves on the right path,” he said, adding “every sector must do its part, from aviation and agriculture to transport, shipping and industry.”

The world also needs to “flick the ‘green switch’” to renewable energy, which will create new jobs and a healthier future. The UN chief said all of this is within reach, as more countries register their commitment.

He called for private sector action towards achieving a sustainable future for all, and in implementing the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, which seeks to limit global warming.

“We count on businesses to play an important role by themselves and to put pressure on governments. Every action, big or small counts, but those with greater capabilities and resources should lead the way”, he said.

The devastating fallouts from the pandemic will be felt for years unless smart investments in economic, societal and climate resilience ensure a robust and sustainable recovery of the global economy, the UN said in the latest edition of The World Economic Situation and Prospects report, published on Monday.

The world economy shrank by 4.3 per cent last year, which is over 2.5 times more than during the financial crisis a decade ago. The authors said the modest 4.7 per cent recovery expected this year would barely offset those losses.

Developed economies shrank the most in 2020, or by 5.6 per cent, due to economic shutdowns and subsequent waves of the pandemic. This has increased the risk of premature austerity measures which would derail global recovery efforts, according to the report. These nations are projected to see four per cent growth in 2021.

Meanwhile, developing countries saw a 2.5 per cent contraction in 2020 and are estimated to rebound by 5.6 per cent.

The pandemic also pushed 131 million more people into poverty, many of whom were women, children, and members of marginalized communities. The crisis has disproportionately affected women and girls, who have faced increased risk of devastation, poverty and violence.

Women also comprise more than half of the workforce in sectors that have been hard hit by lockdowns, such as retail, hospitality and tourism.

Although some $12.7 trillion in massive and timely stimulus measures prevented a total collapse of the world economy and averted another ‘Great Depression’, last manifest in the 1930s, stark disparity in the size of these packages mean developed and developing countries will be on different paths to recovery.

Additionally, financing stimulus packages has increased public debt globally by 15 per cent, representing a potential burden for future generations unless investments are made to promote growth.

The report underscores that sustained recovery will depend not only on the size of stimulus measures, and the quick rollout of vaccines, but also on the quality and efficacy of these measures to build resilience against future shocks.

“The depth and severity of the unprecedented crisis foreshadows a slow and painful recovery,” said Elliott Harris, UN Chief Economist and Assistant Secretary-General for Economic Development.

“As we step into a long recovery phase with the roll out of the vaccines against COVID-19, we need to start boosting longer-term investments that chart the path toward a more resilient recovery - accompanied by a fiscal stance that avoids premature austerity and a redefined debt sustainability framework, universal social protection schemes, and an accelerated transition to the green economy.”

India criticises delay in UN reforms, calls for transparent negotiations

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 26: India has criticised the inordinate delay in inter-governmental negotiations for reforms of the UN and called for a more open and transparent approach to ensure the world body and the Security Council become more inclusive and capable of tackling contemporary challenges.

Participating in a meeting on the negotiations to ensure equitable representation and an increase in the membership of the Security Council on Monday, India’s envoy to the UN TS Tirumurti criticised “naysayers” who had stalled the reforms. He didn’t name the parties that were opposing the changes.

India has for long campaigned for a permanent seat in a reformed and expanded Security Council. Its candidature has been backed by P-5 members such as the US, the UK and France and members of the G-20 such as Germany and Japan. China is often perceived as stalling efforts to reform the UN.

“We all know that reform at the UN is supposed to be a process, not an event. However, sadly, there is no process here in the UN that has traversed the torturous pathways more than what this process of Security Council reform has,” Tirumurti said, pointing out that the inter-governmental negotiations had started 13 years ago while the subject of reforms was first included in the General Assembly’s agenda 43 years ago.

“While the world is not what it was when we began the process, the objections to moving forward remain frozen in time. While global challenges of the 21st century have multiplied, we have been stopped by the naysayers to even adopt the process in order to move forward,” he said.

The inaction on UN reforms has not been “without cost”, and the Security Council is called on to address complex issues of international peace and security but “finds itself unable to act effectively, for it is lacking inclusivity of those who need to be there, and therefore lacking legitimacy and credibility”, Tirumurti said.

The inter-governmental negotiations, he said, are “anything but negotiations” and there is no written documentation that can form the basis for “transparent give-and-take negotiations”.

Tirumurti said India wants the application of the UN General Assembly’s rules to the inter-governmental negotiations to ensure openness and transparency, and an “outcome text” or draft outcome document that should be updated after each meeting to reflect the views and positions of all countries.

The UN cannot allow the inter-governmental negotiations to “continue to serve as a convenient smokescreen for a handful of reform naysayers”, and failure to make changes could force states to look outside negotiations, for genuine reforms.

The permanent membership of the Security Council should reflect contemporary realities and include adequate representation from all regions, he said, reiterating India’s call to have six more permanent seats – two each for Africa and Asia, one for Latin America and the Caribbean, and one for the West European and others group.

“The goal of a reformed multilateralism to preserve peace and promote security is a long overdue idea. For our part, India stands ready to play a constructive role in promoting the common objective of a comprehensive and structured reform process,” he said.

US returns to Paris Agreement, WHO

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 21: In one of its first orders, the new US President Joe Biden, has announced return to the Paris Agreement and pledged to maintain membership in the World Health Organisation (WHO).

On Wednesday, the United States of America notified the Secretary-General of its acceptance of the Paris Agreement of 12 December 2015, according to Stephane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General.

The United States of America signed the Paris Agreement on April 22, 2016 and expressed its consent to be bound by the Agreement by acceptance on September 3, 2016, before withdrawing from the Agreement as of November 4, 2020.

A new instrument of acceptance of the Paris Agreement by the United States was signed by President Biden on January 20, 2021 and deposited with the Secretary-General on the same day.

The spokesman informed "the Paris Agreement will enter into force for the United States on 19 February 2021, in accordance with its article 21 (3).

Meanwhile, WHO Director-General Dr Tedros welcomed the US pledge to maintain membership in the World Health Organisation.

At the meeting of the 148th session of the Executive Board of the World Health Organization (WHO) held at Geneva on Thursday morning, Dr Tedros welcomed the pledge that the United States will remain a member of WHO.

Following the announcement by Dr Anthony S. Fauci, representative of the United States, Dr Tedros said: "Thank you, my brother Tony, and welcome to the WHO Executive Board as head of delegation for the United States of America. Thank you, my friend, for your personal support for WHO over many years, and especially in the past year."

The Director General said "We have benefited immensely from your participation as a member of our regular global health leaders calls, since the start of the pandemic. And thank you for your incredible leadership against the pandemic in the United States."

He said "This is a good day for WHO, and a good day for global health. I send my deep thanks and warm congratulations to President Biden and Vice President Harris, and to the American people."

"Thank you, President Biden, for honouring your pledge to maintain the membership of the United States in WHO. And thank you for your commitment to join the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator and COVAX."

In his report to the Executive Board on Monday, Dr Tedros said that "we must work together as one family to ensure all countries can start vaccinating health workers and other high-risk groups in the first 100 days of 2021. With your commitment, we are one step closer.:

Since WHO’s founding in 1948, the United States has played a vital role in global health, and the American people have made enormous contributions to the health of the world’s people, he added.

India says UN peacekeeping ops should be backed with proper mandate, resources

NEW DELHI, Jan 6: India on Wednesday said the UN’s peacekeeping and special political missions should be backed with a proper mandate and resources even as it called for a permanent slot for Africa in a reformed UN Security Council.

New Delhi’s position on these issues was outlined in foreign secretary Harsh Shringla’s intervention in a debate in the UN Security Council on the theme of “Challenges of maintaining peace and security in fragile contexts”. This was the first key meeting of the council since India became a non-permanent member of the body for two years in January.

Shringla underlined the need to ensure the UN’s presence on the ground, particularly its peacekeeping operations and special political missions, are “sufficiently mandated and resourced to implement a comprehensive understanding of peace and security”.

“Having contributed significantly to UN peacekeeping in Africa for six decades, we have seen how peacekeeping missions are struggling to implement ambitious mandates. Peacekeeping missions should have a clear and well thought out exit strategy,” he said.

Shringla also said the time has come for the Security Council to introspect about the fact that the African continent doesn’t “have a single voice amongst the permanent membership to defend its own interests” at a time when “more than half of the country issues on the council’s agenda pertain to Africa”.

“We need to correct this historical anomaly, and collectively support the Ezulwini consensus,” he said, referring to the African Union’s position on the need to make the Security Council more representative and democratic.

The debate was held under Tunisia’s presidency of the Security Council for January, and focused on the African continent. Shringla said India and African countries have worked together for a fairer global governance system. Under its development partnership with Africa, India has executed 189 developmental projects in 37 African states, while another 77 projects are being completed with a total outlay of $12.86 billion.

India supplied medicines to several African countries to help them fight Covid-19 and it responded to the UN secretary general’s call to upgrade its peacekeeping hospitals in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, he said.

At the India-Africa Forum Summit held in 2015, India also announced lines of credit worth $10 billion and grant assistance of $600 million to African countries. India is Africa’s third-largest export destination, and Indian firms have invested over $54 billion in Africa, he said.

Pointing to the serious challenges posed by the growth of terrorism, particularly in the Sahel and Horn of Africa, Shringla said initiatives such as African Union Mission to Somalia (AMISOM), G-5 Sahel Joint Force and Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) need more robust support from the Security Council. India is also engaged in capacity-building of security forces in several African countries and counter-insurgency and counter-terrorism training forms a significant part of defence training programmes, he said.

WHO chief flays China for delaying access of Covid-19 team

GENEVA, Jan 5: The head of the World Health Organization said Tuesday that he is “disappointed” that Chinese officials haven’t finalized permissions for the arrival of team of experts into China to examine origins of Covid-19.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a rare critique of Beijing, said members of the international scientific team have begun over the last 24 hours to leave from their home countries to China as part of an arrangement between WHO and the Chinese government.

“Today, we learned that Chinese officials have not yet finalized the necessary permissions for the team’s arrival in China,” he told a news conference in Geneva.

“I’m very disappointed with this news, given that two members had already begun their journeys and others were not able to travel at the last minute, but had been in contact with senior Chinese officials,” he said.

Tedros said he had “made it clear” that the mission was a priority for the UN health agency, and that he had been “assured that China is speeding up the internal procedures for the earliest possible deployment.”

“We are eager to get the mission underway as soon as possible,” he said.

The experts, drawn from around the world, are expected to visit the city of Wuhan that is suspected as the place that the coronavirus first emerged over a year ago.

India starts UN Security Council term vowing to speak against terror

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 4: India began its eighth term as a non-permanent member of the UN Security Council on Monday with the stated objective of raising its voice against terrorism, speaking for the developing world and bringing “human-centric inclusive solutions” to matters of global peace and security.

India joined the Security Council technically on January 1, which was a public holiday. The term got underway on Monday with a flag installation ceremony, accompanied by the four other countries joining as non-permanent members: Norway, Ireland, Kenya and Mexico.

“We will use our tenure to bring human-centric and inclusive solutions to matters of international peace and security. India will be a voice for the developing world,” said TS Tirumurti, the Indian permanent representative to the UN, after brief ceremony.

“We will not shy away from raising our voice against the common enemies of humanity like terrorism,” he added.

The permanent representative also reiterated India’s “very strong commitment to reformed multilateralism”, which in the context of the United Nations chiefly includes an expanded Security Council — with a permanent membership for itself — to make the body more representative of the current world.

“India comes into the Security Council as the largest democracy representing 1/6th of humanity and with a strong commitment to reformed multilateralism, rule of law, a fair and equitable international system and to peace, security and development,” Tirumurti said.

“From Kashmir to Kanyakumari, we stand united as one, bound by our ethos of democracy, pluralism and commitment to fundamental rights.”

India will also use the term to focus on peacekeeping, peace building, maritime security, women and youth, especially in conflict situations, and technology with a human face, will receive our attention while on the Council, he added.

India, Norway, Kenya, Ireland and Mexico will join Vietnam, Niger, Estonia, Tunisia and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, as the five non-permanent members already there, and the five permanent members — the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and China.

India won the eighth term in an election last June securing 184 of the 192 votes cast. It was last on the council in a two-year term ending 2012. Its previous terms were 1950-1951, 1967-1968, 1972-1973, 1977-1978, 1984-1985 and 1991-1992.

Indian tricolour to be installed at UN Security Council stakeout

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 3: India’s flag will be installed at the United Nations Security Council stakeout on Monday as the country begins its two-year tenure as a non-permanent member of the powerful UN body.

Flags of the five new incoming non-permanent members will be installed at the stakeout during a special ceremony on January 4, the first official working day of 2021.

India’s Permanent Representative to the UN, Ambassador T S Tirumurti will install the tricolour and is expected to make brief remarks at the ceremony.

Along with India, the incoming UNSC members are Norway, Kenya, Ireland and Mexico. They will join non-permanent members Estonia, Niger, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia and Vietnam and the five permanent members China, France, Russia, the UK and the US.

India will be the UNSC President in August 2021 and will preside over the Council again for a month in 2022. The presidency of the Council is held by each of the members in turn for one month, following the English alphabetical order of the member states names.

The tradition of the flag installation ceremony was introduced by Kazakhstan in 2018.

“Like the changing of the guards, it is the changing of flags from outgoing to the new elected members. This solemn ceremony serves the purpose of affirming and respecting the new members with the recognition they deserve,” Kazakhstan’s former Permanent Representative to the UN Kairat Umarov had said during the 2019 ceremony.

The ceremony was unanimously confirmed by all 15 UNSC members to become an annual tradition of the Security Council, Umarov had said.

General Assembly approves $3.2 billion UN budget for 2021

By Deepak Arora

UNITED NATIONS, Jan 1: United Nations Member States, on Thursday, approved $3.231 billion to fund the global Organization’s regular budget for 2021.

The General Assembly body dealing with UN administrative and budgetary matters (Fifth Committee) had discussed and approved the budget this afternoon before the plenary voted on the financial plan, with 168 casting their ballots in favour, two against (Israel, United States) and no abstentions.

After more than four decades of biennium budgets in approving resources, 2021 marks the second time that the Organization is allocating funds in a one-year-fiscal cycle.

Back in October, the UN chief had proposed a programme budget of $2.99 billion – a net reduction of 2.8 per cent over 2020.

Secretary-General António Guterres had told the Fifth Committee that despite the pandemic and liquidity crunch, “our new processes and structures have proven instrumental in enabling us to remain open and function effectively…we are running this Organization from thousands of dining tables and home offices”.

“We worked together to build consensus, exercise prudence and flexibility, at a critical time in history”, General Assembly President Volkan Bozkir told the final plenary of the year.

He reflected on some of the 75 plenary meetings that were convened in the Assembly Hall, including the General Debate, Biodiversity Summit, 31st Special Session in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and high-level meetings on the 25th Anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women.

Bozkir observed that the Assembly’s performance throughout this difficult year was a testament to the high caliber of diplomacy practiced in the Hall, which also encompassed efforts to ensure a more gender-inclusive chamber.

“In 2020, the General Assembly continued to lead on the world stage and fully function, in order to implement its mandates…to meet the needs of the people we serve”, he said.

Discussing resolutions for the new year, the Assembly President urged the Member States to harness multilateralism to end the COVID-19 pandemic and “address the needs of those furthest behind first”.

He pushed for actions towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), while ‘greening the blue’ and noted that despite the pandemic, “climate change continues to destabilize the world”.

Because the Assembly Hall is one of the few rooms in UN Headquarters with the capacity to facilitate social distancing, Bozkir upheld that it would continue to open its doors to UN bodies “to live up to our promise, to create the UN we need for the future we want”.

And finally, he encouraged the Ambassadors to create a better future by joining him in re-committing to the UN Charter and strengthening multilateralism.

“Our work here in the General Assembly requires us to recognize the great responsibility placed upon us by the people we serve”, he stated and called it “our solemn duty” to engage in constructive dialogue to pursue the UN’s noble goals of universal peace, human rights and sustainable development.

UN health agency clears COVID-19 vaccine for emergency use

By Deepak Arora

GENEVA, Jan 1: To speed up access to COVID-19 vaccinations in the developing world, the UN health agency has approved Pfizer and BioNTech’s vaccines for emergency use.

Regulatory experts convened by the World Health Organization (WHO) from around the world and UN agency’s own teams reviewed the data on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and found on Thursday that it met WHO’s must-have criteria for safety and efficacy – with its benefits offsetting any potential risks.

“This is a very positive step towards ensuring global access to COVID-19 vaccines,” said Dr. Mariângela Simão, WHO Assistant-Director General for Access to Medicines and Health Products. 

“But I want to emphasize the need for an even greater global effort to achieve enough vaccine supply to meet the needs of priority populations everywhere”.

The move opens the door for countries to expedite their own regulatory approval processes to import and administer the vaccine.

It also enables UNICEF and the Pan-American Health Organization (PAHO) to procure the vaccine for distribution to countries in need.

At the same time, WHO is encouraging more developers to come forward for review and assessment to satisfy the critical supply for all countries globally to stem the pandemic.

“WHO and our partners are working night and day to evaluate other vaccines that have reached safety and efficacy standards”, said Dr. Simão.

Drawing from WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization (SAGE) population prioritization recommendations for COVID-19 vaccines, which were issued in September, the group will convene on 5 January to formulate vaccine specific policies and recommendations.

Meanwhile, WHO is working with regional partners to advise national health authorities about the two-dose shot and its anticipated benefits.

The World Health Organization, with the GAVI Vaccine Alliance and the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), are spearheading a global effort called COVAX to secure the equitable distribution of vaccines to all countries and not just to wealthy nations.




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