The UN will pursue permanent COVID vaccine commitments from the richest countries at the General Assembly

United Nations – The UN General Assembly officially started this week. covid-19 forced the largest gathering of world leaders on the calendar to become virtual by 2020, but this year more than 100 presidents, prime ministers and others will give personal speeches at the two-week event.

More than a year and a half after the pandemic started, the coronavirus will still be at the center.

This year’s General Assembly is held in a hybrid way, and some guests are still practically attending after the US mission in August expressed fears that it could be a super-spreading event in New York City.

In particular, Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin have chosen not to participate personally this year.

But with a bit of glamor that the General Assembly was previously known for, South Korean President Moon Jae-in will show up, and he will take with him K-pop superstars BTS, in an effort to encourage the next generation to participate in global issues.

The general debate between the Heads of State and Government – the most important event containing leadership figures – begins on 21 September. They will not be short of pressing issues to discuss, from climate change to the looming humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan following the Taliban takeover, and mounting voltage on the Korean Peninsula. But no issue will be more important, says the UN leadership, than to curb the COVID-19 pandemic that is still raging over control in so many places.

It was clear even before the meetings began that both the UN and many of its member countries would pressure the world’s richest nations to share more vaccine doses and quickly.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres set the tone, noting in a new preview of the General Assembly that the pandemic “took more than 4 million lives, still killing nearly 10,000 people every day and circling the globe while a handful of rich countries stockpile vaccines.”

A few days before the opening of the Assembly, the UN chief said he hoped the general debate would “see action against a global vaccination plan, carried out by an emergency working group of countries that produce or can produce vaccines. World Health Organization (WHO) and its partners and international financial institutions. ”

The working group, he said, “should work with pharmaceutical companies that guarantee at least that the production of vaccines will double and ensure that vaccines reach seventy percent of the world’s population in the first half of 2022.”

UN General Assembly Plenary Session in NYC
The plenary session of the UN General Assembly was held at the UN headquarters in New York on 14 September 2021.

Tayfun Coskun / Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The Vice President of the General Assembly, Maldives Foreign Minister Abdulla Shahid, told CBS News during a press conference that he would “do everything that the President of the General Assembly has the power to do – everything – to ensure that we can achieve the goal we set to get every single person vaccinated by the end of 2022 … and I call leaders in all countries to come together and get this done. ”

“We can not accept that only 3% of Africa has yet been immunized, we can and will do better,” Shahid said.

The White House has organized a virtual gathering that will take place after President Biden’s first personal speech to the General Assembly on September 21. “Global COVID-19 Summit: Ending the Pandemic and Building Back Better” will take place the next day.

“It’s really important for us to understand – not just as the US government but all stakeholders to understand – what went right and what went wrong in this pandemic,” said Loyce Pace, director of the Office of Global Affairs at the US Department of Health. and Human Services, said on Wednesday. She said all nations must “review responsibilities … so that we do better, not just in the future, but in real time.”

Several UN delegations have told CBS News that they will attend the White House summit, which has a list of goals, first reported by the Washington Post, including full vaccination of at least 70% of the population in all countries by the next General Assembly in 2022.


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