UN experts: G7 governments must ensure access to vaccines in developing countries – World
GENEVA (June 9, 2021) – UN human rights experts * today called on leaders of the world’s largest economies to ensure people in the South have equal access to COVID-19 vaccines and not letting profit undermine global health and equity.
“Everyone has the right to have access to a COVID-19 vaccine that is safe, effective, timely and based on the application of the best scientific developments,” experts said ahead of the summit of G7 leaders who will be held in the UK. from June 11 to 13.
“The time has come for international solidarity and cooperation to provide effective assistance to all governments in their efforts to immunize and save lives,” they said. “Now is not the time for protracted negotiations or lobbying to erect barriers to protect corporate profits.
Experts stressed that the extraordinarily rapid production of safe and effective COVID-19 vaccines has not been followed by swift action to ensure equity of access in all countries and regions.
“Billions of people in the Global South are being left behind. They see vaccines as a mirage or a privilege for the developed world,” the experts said. “This will unnecessarily prolong the crisis, dramatically increase the death toll and worsen economic distress, possibly sowing the seeds of social unrest.”
G7 leaders must make protecting the rights to life and health of people in the most socially and economically precarious situations a top priority at a time when millions of people face poverty and hunger, the experts said, echoing their statement last year on human costs. of the pandemic.
“It is shocking that, according to WHO reports, less than one percent of all vaccines given to date have gone to low-income countries,” they said. They stressed the importance of ensuring that intellectual property rights do not become an obstacle to low-cost production and expanded supply. They also urged pharmaceutical companies to join WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool (C-TAP) to share know-how, data and facilitate technology transfer.
They recalled that while the TRIPS Agreement on intellectual property rights provides for certain flexibilities, including the possibility of compulsory licenses in the event of a national emergency, these remain insufficient to respond to the current pandemic.
“Maximizing the production of safe vaccines must take precedence over the benefits of a global pandemic,” they said. “States must ensure that the legal protection of intellectual property and patents does not infringe the right of everyone to have access to a safe, rapid and effective vaccine.”
Experts reminded states to act in accordance with the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and to ensure that multilateral institutions such as the World Trade Organization (WTO) “do not restrict the capacity of their member states to fulfill their duty to protect and obstruct business enterprises from respecting human rights ”.
They also stressed the need to strengthen the capacity of developing countries to produce vaccines themselves by ensuring financial and technical support for local manufacturing – some of which are already taking off – and by preserving access to ingredients. assets required for production.
Experts have approved a recent declaration by the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights which has stated that unequal access to vaccines for least developed and developing countries is not only discriminatory, but also undermines progress towards achieving the goals of sustainable development.
“We are particularly impressed with the role that civil society organizations and activists have played in galvanizing the support of many states and stakeholders behind the call for a vaccine available to everyone, everywhere and for free,” they said. .
The experts: Mr. Olivier De Schutter, Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights; Ms. Tlaleng Mofokeng, Special Rapporteur on the right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health; Mr. Dante Pesce (President), Mr. Surya Deva (Vice-President), Ms. Elżbieta Karska, Mr. Githu Muigai and Ms. Anita Ramasastry, Business and Human Rights Working Group; Mr. Saad Alfarargi, Special Rapporteur on the right to development and M. Obiora C. Okafor, Independent expert on human rights and international solidarity.
* Special rapporteurs and independent experts are part of what is known as the Special procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest group of independent experts in the United Nations human rights system, is the general name for the Council’s independent investigative and monitoring mechanisms that deal with either country-specific situations or thematic issues in all regions of the world. Special procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent of any government or organization and serve in an individual capacity. *
* For inquiries and media inquiries, please contact: ** Ms. Juana Sotomayor (+41 22 928 9814 / [email protected]) *
For media inquiries regarding other independent UN experts, please contact Renato de Souza (+41 22 928 9855* / [email protected]), *