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UN Chief, Guterres, pushes for implementation of global vaccine plan; Wants internet access for all as basic human right by 2030


UN Secretary-General António Guterres briefing reporters ahead of 76th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) at UN headquarters in New York on Friday.

By Cecilia Ologunagba

New York, Sept 10, 2021

UN Secretary-General António Guterres on Friday urged the Emergency Task Force to implement a global vaccination plan to ensure equitable distribution of vaccines globally.

Guterres made the call while briefing reporters ahead of the 76th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) at UN headquarters in New York.

The 76th Session of UNGA is expected to start on Sept. 15, while the High-level week will start on Sept. 21.

The UN correspondent of New Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the secretary-general also released a report on “Our Common Agenda’’ setting out his vision for the future of global cooperation.

Guterres said it was the immediate joint challenge of member states to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We still have an opportunity to act together, in solidarity and self-interest, to end the pandemic before it does even more damage.

“I hope the forthcoming General Debate will see action on a global vaccination plan, implemented by an emergency taskforce.

“The Task Force is made up of countries that produce or can produce vaccines, the World Health Organisation (WHO), and its partners, and international financial institutions.

“This Task Force should work with pharmaceutical companies guaranteeing at least that production of vaccines will double and ensure that vaccines reach seventy per cent of the world’s population in the first half of 2022,’’ he said.

The UN chief said the next two weeks would also see opportunities for action on climate crisis, and an inclusive, equitable recovery from the pandemic.

He said it would also see inclusion of decent jobs and social protection, on ending the scourge of racial discrimination, on transforming food systems so that they deliver for all, and on eliminating nuclear weapons.

“In all these meetings, I hope Member States will heed the warning signs and the calls of their own people for unity and solidarity,’’ the top UN official said.

(Right) UN Secretary-General António Guterres flank by his spokesperson, Stephane Dujarric (left) at the pre 76th Session of the UN General Assembly (UNGA) briefing at UN headquarters in New York on Friday.

Guterres said he hoped that the Member States would see his report on ‘Our Common Agenda’ as the beginning of a global effort to come together and fulfil the potential of nations united.

“The high-level week will be a first opportunity for political leaders to pronounce themselves,’’ he said.

According to him, global cooperation for peace, sustainable development and human rights can only be built on solidarity within countries.

The Secretary-General said that the report proposed a series of measures to rebuild trust and social cohesion through a new social contract anchored on human rights.

“This would herald a new era for social protection, including universal health coverage and income protection, housing, decent work, transforming education and skills.

“Also, on preventing and ending the epidemic of discrimination and violence against women and girls that holds back all of humanity,’’ he said.

According to him, a World Social Summit would anchor the new social contract at the global level, giving a strong push to the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals.

“All these efforts will require economic analysis based on today’s priorities, rather than outdated ideas of prosperity and economic success.

“And so, my report, therefore, recommends ending the tyranny of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) as a yardstick and replacing it with metrics that measure our wellbeing and that of our planet.

“Today, if we burn a forest or if we burn coal we are producing GDP and that shows the absurdity of using it as the only metric.

“My report also urges all governments to reinvigorate action on human rights, including in our online lives. I urge steps to achieve internet access for all as a basic human right by 2030.’’

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