Health crisis used to tout “global community” as replacement for “nationalism”
by Steve Watson
caracterdesign / Getty Images
Twenty four world leaders have signed a letter calling for more globalism to combat future pandemics, citing the the coronavirus outbreak as an opportunity to consign nationalism to the dustbin of history.
UK prime minister Boris Johnson, German chancellor Angela Merkel, and French president Emmanuel Macron are the leading figures behind the pledge, with 21 other heads of state signing the letter.
It states that “nobody is safe until everyone is safe,” and that a “global community” must be further implemented in order to combat ‘inevitable’ future pandemics.
“At a time when Covid-19 has exploited our weaknesses and divisions, we must seize this opportunity and come together as a global community for peaceful cooperation that extends beyond this crisis,” the letter states.
“Building our capacities and systems to do this will take time and require a sustained political, financial and societal commitment over many years,” it adds.
The letter compares the situation to the aftermath of the Second World War, and urges an end to “isolationism and nationalism”.
The pledge calls for a strengthening of the World Health Organisation’s infrastructure, despite the global health body’s documented failures in regards to the pandemic, and continued charges that it has facilitated the communist Chinese government’s lies and deceptions.
WHO director general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus also signed the letter, having repeatedly slammed nations including Britain and the US for putting their own populations first when it comes to recovery.
The letter specifically calls for a global treaty on pandemics to be signed to establish international ‘rules and norms’ for vaccine production and distribution, as well as coordination on ‘alert systems, data-sharing and research’.
Presumably any global treaty would also address restrictions to be put in place under future pandemics, although that is not made clear in the letter.
Health ministers of nations are set to meet in May at the World Health Assembly, and could discuss a global treaty there.
Below is the full Letter signed by 24 world leaders:
‘The Covid-19 pandemic is the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s. At that time, following the devastation of two world wars, political leaders came together to forge the multilateral system. The aims were clear: to bring countries together, to dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism, and to address the challenges that could only be achieved together in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation: namely, peace, prosperity, health and security.
‘Today, we hold the same hope that as we fight to overcome the Covid-19 pandemic together, we can build a more robust international health architecture that will protect future generations. There will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies. No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone. The question is not if, but when. Together, we must be better prepared to predict, prevent, detect, assess and effectively respond to pandemics in a highly coordinated fashion. The Covid-19 pandemic has been a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe.
‘We are, therefore, committed to ensuring universal and equitable access to safe, efficacious and affordable vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for this and future pandemics. Immunisation is a global public good and we will need to be able to develop, manufacture and deploy vaccines as quickly as possible. This is why the Access to Covid-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) was set up in order to promote equal access to tests, treatments and vaccines and support health systems across the globe. ACT-A has delivered on many aspects but equitable access is yet to be achieved. There is more we can do to promote global access.
‘To that end, we believe that nations should work together towards a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response. Such a renewed collective commitment would be a milestone in stepping up pandemic preparedness at the highest political level. It would be rooted in the constitution of the World Health Organisation, drawing in other relevant organisations key to this endeavour, in support of the principle of health for all. Existing global health instruments, especially the International Health Regulations, would underpin such a treaty, ensuring a firm and tested foundation on which we can build and improve.
‘The main goal of this treaty would be to foster an all-of-government and all-of-society approach, strengthening national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics. This includes greatly enhancing international cooperation to improve, for example, alert systems, data-sharing, research, and local, regional and global production and distribution of medical and public health countermeasures, such as vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and personal protective equipment.
‘It would also include recognition of a ‘One Health’ approach that connects the health of humans, animals and our planet. And such a treaty should lead to more mutual accountability and shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation within the international system and with its rules and norms.
‘To achieve this, we will work with heads of state and governments globally and all stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector. We are convinced that it is our responsibility, as leaders of nations and international institutions, to ensure that the world learns the lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic.
‘At a time when Covid-19 has exploited our weaknesses and divisions, we must seize this opportunity and come together as a global community for peaceful cooperation that extends beyond this crisis. Building our capacities and systems to do this will take time and require a sustained political, financial and societal commitment over many years.
‘Our solidarity in ensuring that the world is better prepared will be our legacy that protects our children and grandchildren and minimises the impact of future pandemics on our economies and our societies. Pandemic preparedness needs global leadership for a global health system fit for this millennium. To make this commitment a reality, we must be guided by solidarity, fairness, transparency, inclusiveness and equity.’
Boris Johnson, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; Emmanuel Macron, president of France; Angela Merkel, chancellor of Germany; Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organisation and 21 other world leaders.