– As delivered –
Remarks by H.E. Mr. Volkan Bozkir, President of the 75th session of the United Nations General Assembly
16 April 2021
H.E. Mr. Munir Akram, President of the Economic and Social Council,
Thank you for the opportunity to address this Special Meeting of the Economic and Social Council on ‘a Vaccine for All’.
From the earliest days of my Presidency I have emphasized, time and again, the importance of the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines. Indeed, this was the focus of a dedicated panel during the special session of the General Assembly on COVID-19, which was held last December. I also started a campaign last November named #Vaccines4All. I commend ECOSOC and President Akram for helping to take this issue forward.
The path forward is clear. We must finish what we have started. We must extend vaccine access to all people, beginning with the most vulnerable and at-risk. We must keep our promise to leave no one behind. I call on all Member States and partners to recommit to the principles of human solidarity and cooperation, and to work towards the goal of ‘vaccines for all’.
Make no mistake: no topic is as relevant or pertinent to the world today as that of vaccines. Everyone must be able to access one. As I have said many times, no one is safe until we are all safe. This topic has, and will, continue to dominate the headlines and discussions around the world for the foreseeable future. It is the job of the United Nations and its Member States to act on these demands.
In doing so, we must remember all that we have endured, how far we have come, and how close we are to a finish line that, for so long, felt despairingly far away.
While we have all experienced the pandemic differently, there are constants that have been shared. At varying times, we have all felt the anxiety, the frustration, the loneliness, and the loss. More recently, we have all felt the familiar feeling of hope, of a light at the end of the tunnel.
We watched together as the first steps were taken to find potential vaccines.
We rejoiced when governments and private sector companies came together and leveraged the best that science has to offer.
And we celebrated when vaccine after vaccine was approved for use.
In less than a year we have come from fear, isolation, and frustration to the approval of multiple viable vaccines. More than 800 million vaccine doses have been administered worldwide, across 199 countries, territories, and economies. For these accomplishments alone, we, as a society, should be proud.
However, our efforts have not been perfect, and we must recognize gaps that persist. Far too many countries continue to wait for vaccines, and the ACT Accelerator and its COVAX Facility remain underfunded. While COVAX has managed to deliver nearly 40 million doses to at least 113 countries, which is a commendable accomplishment by any stretch, it is clear that we need to do more and we need to do it quicker if we are to emerge from this pandemic safely.
We have achieved so much in so little time; our goal now must be to find the path forward, to ‘bring it home’ as they say, and to ensure that the ‘people’s vaccine’ is truly a vaccine for all.
Because we must remember, this was always a global effort. Our progress to date is the result of dozens of countries supporting, and working with, hundreds of companies and thousands of scientists. This was multilateralism at its finest.
Truly, if we can be as resourceful, as expedient, and as disciplined, in our approach to all other challenges as we have been towards vaccines, then we are well prepared indeed.
We have achieved so much. The path forward is clear. We must finish what we have started. We must extend vaccine access to all people, beginning with the most vulnerable and at-risk. We must keep our promise to leave no one behind.
I call on all Member States and partners to recommit to the principles of human solidarity and cooperation, and to work towards the goal of ‘vaccines for all’.
I ask that you:
– extend further resources to COVAX and to multilateral mechanisms to supply and distribute vaccines, such as UNICEF;
– invest in vaccine research, production, and distribution;
– donate vaccines to countries in need;
– and scale up efforts to tackle misinformation and ensure everyone is well-educated on the benefits of vaccines.
We have achieved the scientific breakthroughs in bringing to market effective vaccines in record time. We have the means and resources to produce and distribute them, to vaccinate the entire human population. What we need now is the political will to finish what we have started.
We went into this pandemic together. We can emerge from it together. Let us not rest when vaccines for all are so much in reach.
I wish you a good and productive discussion. I thank His Excellency President Akram for organizing this discussion.