UN Secretary-General

Policy Brief 81, July 2020

The UN General Assembly Resolutions on COVID-19: Solemn Assurances for Access to Health Technologies without an Action Plan

By Nirmalya Syam

The United Nations (UN) has the mandate under the Charter of the United Nations to promote solutions to international health problems, such as the global COVID-19 pandemic. While the UN secretariat, led by the Secretary-General, has undertaken a number of initiatives in response to COVID-19, member State initiatives in the UN has so far been limited to two resolutions adopted by the UN General Assembly. Member States are currently negotiating an omnibus resolution of the General Assembly on COVID-19.  This policy brief analyzes the extent to which the General Assembly addresses the issue of timely, equitable and affordable access to health technologies, particularly for developing countries who have greater vulnerability to COVID-19. The adopted resolutions make very broad pledges for global solidarity but lack specific commitments to guide actions by member States. The omnibus resolution currently under negotiation should provide specific guidance to member States on actions to be taken based on the principles of solidarity and multilateral cooperation in diverse aspects impacted by COVID-19.

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Policy Brief 78, May 2020

The 73rd World Health Assembly and Resolution on COVID-19: Quest of Global Solidarity for Equitable Access to Health Products

By Nirmalya Syam, Mirza Alas and Vitor Ido

The annual meeting of the World Health Assembly (WHA) of the World Health Organization (WHO) held virtually on 18-19 May 2020 discussed the global response to COVID-19 and adopted Resolution WHA73.1 on “COVID-19 Response”. The Resolution reaffirms the role of WHO as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work and it recognizes that all countries should have timely and affordable access to diagnostics, therapeutics, medicines and vaccines as well as to essential health technologies and equipment to respond to COVID-19. However, the Resolution does not define concrete actions to address the pandemic. Though the Resolution makes a commitment of ensuring access to medical products, vaccines and equipment for all countries in a timely manner, there are no concrete actions defined.  In order to ensure global equitable access, WHO Members should make full use of the flexibilities of the Agreement on the Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS)  and also enhance transparency of costs of research and development (R&D), openness and sharing of data, tools and technologies, and build more capacity through technology transfer.

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Beijing+25 Update Series 1, 13 March 2020

Political Declaration on the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women

Ministers and representatives of governments of the Member States of the United Nations met at a special one-day session of the 64th meeting of the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW64) and adopted a Political Declaration commemorating the 25th anniversary of the Fourth World Conference on Women, held in Beijing in 1995, and its major seminal output, the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action (BD & BPfA).

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Policy Brief 66, August 2019

Impacts of Unilateral Coercive Measures in Developing Countries: the need to end the US embargo on Cuba

By Vicente Paolo Yu and Adriano José Timossi

On 1 November 2018, the 193 Member States of the United Nations (UN) held the twenty-seventh consecutive annual vote of the General Assembly on a resolution entitled “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed against Cuba.” The resolution was adopted with a near unanimous vote of 189 in favor, 2 abstentions (Ukraine and Moldova) and 2 against (United States of America and Israel). Before the vote and for the first time since the resolution was submitted in 1992, the US presented a set of eight proposed amendments to be considered by the 193 Member States, which were all rejected.

The present policy brief is a summary of the input prepared by the South Centre as a contribution to the 2019 report of the Secretary-General with respect to the imposition of unilateral economic, finance and trade measures by one State against another that is prepared pursuant to UN General Assembly Resolution 73/8.

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Climate Policy Brief 20, February 2018

Overview of outcomes of the November  2017 UNFCCC climate talks

The annual climate change talks under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the Kyoto Protocol (KP) and the Paris Agreement (PA) took place in Bonn, Germany, on 6-18 November 2017, ending a day later than scheduled due to last-minute wrangling among Parties, mainly over issues related to finance.

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Research Paper 78, July 2017

Intellectual Property, Public Health and Access to Medicines in International Organizations

This South Centre research paper by Dr. German Velasquez describes and analyses the mandate, programmes, strategies, and activities that different international organizations such as WHO, WTO, WIPO, UNCTAD, UNDP, UNAIDS, the UN Human Rights Council, and the UN Secretary-General’s High Level Panel (UNHLP) on access to medicines have undertaken on the subject of access to medicines, intellectual property, international trade rules and human rights.

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