By Vafa Ismayilova
Azerbaijani President and Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) Chairman Ilham Aliyev has urged coordinated and effective global response to COVID-19.
He made the remarks in an address to a Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in Response to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic that has been held in New York.
On behalf of NAM uniting 120 member states, Aliyev said: "NAM stresses the importance of affordable, unhindered and equitable access by all countries to medicines, vaccines and medical equipment, which should constitute an integral part of a coordinated and effective global response to COVID-19."
He stressed that a safe and effective vaccine will soon be available at affordable prices for all.
"As many vaccines against COVID-19 are being currently studied, we are all looking forward to the successful outcome of clinical trials and hope that a safe and effective vaccine will soon be available, and that they will be considered as global public goods ensuring their universal distribution at affordable prices for all. We appreciate the coordination efforts of WHO in this process and stress the importance of this Organization in facilitating equitable access of people throughout the globe to such vaccine, once it is available," he added.
The president noted that the global community has faced the greatest health crisis in recent history.
“Throughout 2020 the global community has faced the greatest health crisis in recent history, with almost 60 million reported cases and more than 1 million deaths worldwide as of today, resulting in multifaceted repercussions in health, social, economic and financial spheres, causing disruption to societies and economies, as well as to global commerce and travel, and making a devastating impact on the livelihood of people,” Aliyev said.
The head of state later spoke about steps taken by NAM member states in response to COVID-19.
“With the aim to contributing to the global efforts in addressing the unprecedented universal impact of the pandemic and to find out possible ways to provide a prompt, adequate and inclusive assistance to the Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement, Azerbaijan, as the Chair of the Movement convened the online Summit-level Meeting of the NAM Contact Group in response to COVID-19 under the theme 'United against COVID-19' on 4 May 2020. As a practical outcome of this meeting the Member States of the Movement decided to establish the Task Force in response to COVID-19 and to work out a database on the basic humanitarian and medical needs and requirements of NAM Member States in their fight against COVID-19,” he said.
“We are pleased to know that WHO uses the NAM database as one of its reference points for identifying the existing needs of NAM Member states in addressing the pandemic,” the president added.
The president noted that the NAM praises the activities of the United Nations system in response to the COVID-19.
"We commend strong leadership of the Secretary-General, who played a central role in spearheading the United Nations global response to the pandemic, while at the same time ensuring continuity of operations of the UN Secretariat. The Movement fully supports the WHO and its leadership in their critical role in providing guidance, training, equipment and concrete life-saving services, in order to ensure effective response of the international community to the ever-increasing challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic," he said.
Aliyev stressed that the pandemic had exposed and aggravated vulnerabilities and inequalities in both developing and developed countries, and also among them, deepening poverty and exclusion and pushing the most vulnerable even further behind.
'It is the poorest and most vulnerable who were hit the hardest by this pandemic and NAM is gravely concerned that the further impact of the crisis will reverse hard-won development gains and hamper progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. We also note with concern that the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic further exacerbated existing fundamental impediments, which most recently were addressed during the 18th NAM Summit in 2019 in Baku, such as impacts of global financial and economic crises, continuing lack of resources and underdevelopment of the majority of the developing world, continuing unequal terms of trade and lack of cooperation from developed countries, the coercive and unilateral measures imposed by some of them, as well as use of force or threats of use of force, in the way towards a just and equitable world order," he added.
Aliyev stressed that through a coordinated and concerted global response based on unity, multilateral cooperation, solidarity and respect for human rights, the international community could craft strategies to mitigate effects of COVID-19 and recover from the pandemic, which currently continues to spread.
"This special session will serve broad objectives, such as reaffirming and strengthening commitment to international cooperation and multilateralism, highlighting best practices, as well as challenges of UN Member States in responding to the pandemic, and reflecting on the central position of the United Nations through providing an opportunity for open and transparent discussions among Member States, Observer States, observers, relevant UN agencies and bodies and other stakeholders. We look forward to fruitful deliberations throughout the session," he said.
Azerbaijan has made a significant contribution to the strengthening of solidarity and cooperation against coronavirus at a global level. As part of its cooperation in this sphere, Azerbaijan provided voluntary financial assistance to the World Health Organization (WHO). Funds supplied to the WHO by the country, which plays an active role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic both at the domestic and multilateral levels, are intended for those most in need of assistance from the regional groups of Africa, Latin America, and Asia. Azerbaijan also provided assistance in the form of medical supplies and equipment to individual countries.
Back in May this year, at the initiative of President Aliyev, who is also the chairman of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), an online summit of the NAM contact group was held. In his opening remarks at the summit titled “United against COVID-19”, he said that the countries could “overcome COVID-19 with mutual support, self-control and joint efforts only”. To recap, Azerbaijan also chaired the summit of the Cooperation Council of Turkic-speaking states on COVID-19 on April 10.
Azerbaijan has allocated to the World Health Organization a donation in the amount of $10 million. The relevant donor agreement was signed between Azerbaijan and the World Health Organization on May 11.
This donor agreement provides for voluntary financial assistance by the Azerbaijani government to the Fund “Appeal COVID-19” within the framework of the World Health Organization’s “Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan”.
In addition to $10 million allocated for the World Health Organization, Azerbaijan has provided the humanitarian and financial aid to over 30 countries to fight the coronavirus pandemic. Thus, Azerbaijan provided $5 million to neighbouring Iran, sent medical supplies amounting to 25 tons to Iraq, 4.5 tons of medical supplies to Afghanistan and humanitarian aid worth $25,000 to Yemen, among others.
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