The “Political Declaration of the United Nations General Assembly High-level Meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response (PPPR)” has been recently circulated among U.N. member states via a silence procedure in which silence is interpreted as acceptance of the document by a member state.
The declaration has been slated for adoption on September 20, ostensibly if no objections are voiced by member states. However, Health Policy Watch noted that it is unclear what impact the 11 nations’ objections will have on the declarations’ outcomes since there is a “possibility” the documents may be passed via a vote count rather than unanimously, as has been the custom.
According to the news outlet, despite the 11 countries’ objections, the Political Declaration on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) was adopted at Monday’s SDG Summit.
Writing to U.N. President Dennis Francis on September 17, Belarus, Bolivia, Cuba, North Korea, Eritrea, Iran, Nicaragua, Russia, Syria, Venezuela, and Zimbabwe also expressed their objections to the draft political declarations of the SDG Summit, the high-level meeting on universal health coverage (UHC), and the high-level meeting on the fight against tuberculosis.
The countries lamented that it had not yet been possible to “find a political solution to the current stalemate” regarding these declarations, which they said was due to lack of “meaningful negotiations to have balanced and acceptable outcomes for all” as well as “lack of transparency.”
These states took issue with what they referred to as “illegal” unilateral coercive measures (UCMs) – economic actions intended to coerce policy change in another nation – which they called an “existential” problem for their nations, and claimed affected a third of the world’s population.
Such economic measures include trade sanctions, embargoes, asset freezing and travel bans, Health Policy Watch noted. Russia, Iran, Cuba, North Korea, and Venezuela all face sanctions from the U.S. and its allies.
“Our delegations oppose any attempt to pretend to formally adopt any of the draft outcome documents in question,” stated the letter, adding, “In addition, we reserve the right to take appropriate action upon the formal consideration of these four draft outcome documents in the coming weeks.”
The political pandemic Declaration heavily emphasizes the importance of global access to vaccines both as a remedy and a preventive measure for pandemics. The Declaration considers vaccine uptake such a high priority that it deems any messages encouraging “vaccine hesitancy,” including on social media, a problem to be combatted.
The document also calls for the recognition of the potential of digital health technologies in “strengthening secure communications in health emergencies,” as well as of the importance of “digitalized health documents.” These could theoretically include digital vaccine passports, which are being developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Union (EU).
According to the U.N.’s silence procedure, after the objections of member states, the U.N. president “may choose to” refer the draft resolution to certain U.N. representatives for revision, to be followed by further deliberations. It remains to be seen whether the U.N. will conduct further deliberations regarding the PPPR political declaration after member state objections.
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