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Duterte seeks UN reforms, equal access to vaccine

 

President Rodrigo Duterte called for reforms at the United Nations as the organization and the world face the “biggest test” since World War 2.

In his speech during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) aired early Wednesday, Duterte urged the international body to do away with the “business as usual” approach, noting that the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic “has taken many lives and wrecked economies and social order.”

The President said Covid-19 has “brought about an unfamiliar global landscape and unleashed a crisis without precedent.”

 

“Indeed, to be ready for the new global normal, it cannot be business as usual for the UN. Let us empower [the] UN, reform it, to meet the challenges of today and tomorrow,” he added.

For the Philippines, this would mean “putting all of the peoples of our united nations at the core of this response.”

“While each nation has its own strategy in fighting the pandemic, what the world needs are coordinated international plans and efforts to pursue a common purpose. Covid-19 knows no border. It knows no nationality. It knows no race. It knows no gender. It knows no age.
It knows no creed,” he said.

While the President welcomed the launch of the UN Covid Response and Recovery Fund, he underscored the need to ensure equal access to a safe and effective vaccine.

“Ensuring universal access to anti Covid-19 technologies and products is pivotal in the global pandemic recovery. The world is in the race to find a safe and effective vaccine.

When the world finds that vaccine, access to it must not be denied nor withheld. It should be made available to all, rich and poor nations alike, as a matter of policy,” he said.

“The Philippines joins our partners in the Asean (Association of Southeast Asian Nations) and the Non-Aligned Movement in raising our collective voice: the Covid-19 vaccine must be considered a global public good. Let us be clear on this,” he added.

Duterte earlier called out Western countries and companies for allegedly profiting from the coronavirus pandemic.

A worldwide race for a coronavirus vaccine is underway, with at least nine pharmaceutical firms in the United States and Europe holding late-stage trials.

The President also urged the UN to ensure that the World Health Organization (WHO) has enough resources and policy space to address the pandemic more quickly and more efficiently.

“We need a WHO that is quick to coordinate and quicker to respond. The Philippines will do its part in the pooling of global resources. Our health workers are among the best,” he said.

The President said while the UN remained “humanity’s essential organization,” it was “only as effective as we make it.”

“To make significant changes, we need to be bold. We need the same collective courage that finally made the United Nations a reality 75 years ago. We need to act on long-standing recommendations to improve the Security Council’s composition and working methods; to strengthen the role of the General Assembly; and to streamline the processes and the operations of the UN,” Duterte said.

Since the start of the pandemic, 31.3 million people have contracted Covid-19, according to data from the Johns Hopkins University. Of those, 965,000 have died and 21.5 million have recovered.

 

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