State of the Pandemic, Global Governance, Leadership, Global

Period. 15 - 21 September 2020

Countries will meet for the 75th UN General Assembly this coming week where they will adopt two resolutions on the Global Response to COVID-19. Acknowledging the key leadership role of the WHO and the UN system more broadly, the all-encompassing resolutions call for intensified international cooperation and solidarity to contain, mitigate and overcome the pandemic and its consequences through responses that are people-centred and gender-responsive, with full respect for human rights. It also encourages countries to partner with relevant stakeholders in order to increase R&D funding for diagnostics, treatment and vaccines, leverage digital technologies, and strengthen scientific cooperation. The resolution moreover urges climate- and environment-sensitive approaches to drive the recovery, reflecting growing support and recognition within the UN of the importance of combatting the threat of climate change.

Two countries voted against the UN resolution in a break from multilateralism: the U.S. launching renewed attacks against China in rejecting the expressions of support for the WHO, while Israel objected to an amendment that discouraged countries from enacting unilateral sanctions on states that were not in accordance with international law. The last-minute amendment was introduced by Cuba and supported by 84 countries, claiming the original text failed to reflect concerns on national efforts to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

In a second resolution that was adopted unanimously, the UN General Assembly called for intensified international cooperation and multilateral efforts in addressing current and future disease outbreaks. That includes sharing timely, accurate and transparent information, exchanging epidemiological and clinical data, sharing materials necessary for R&D, and implementing relevant guidance, including the International Health Regulations. The resolution also stressed the importance of expanding global efforts to fight health crises in order to maintain economic stability by supporting economies, protect workers and businesses as well as shielding the vulnerable through adequate social protection.

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