MADRID (EUROPA PRESS).- Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, the United States and other countries of the global north “are committing discrimination,” says the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD).
“Those countries must give up intellectual property rights on protections, vaccines, treatments or health technologies against the Covid 19 pandemic to fully respect human rights,” said CERD.
In a decision adopted within the framework of the early warning and urgent action procedures, the Committee expressed its concern that Covid 19 continues to be “a serious public health problem with devastating negative effects.”
It added that these negative effects fall disproportionately on individuals and groups vulnerable to racial discrimination, in particular people of African or Asian descent, ethnic minorities, Roma communities and indigenous peoples.
According to the latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO), only 32 percent of the world’s population has received at least one booster or additional dose of the vaccine. However, in developing countries, such as Gabon, Papua New Guinea, Burundi and Madagascar, the proportion is less than 1 percent.
“The current problems of inequality can be significantly mitigated by sharing access to the intellectual property rights of the patents of vaccines, treatments and related technologies that preserve life, and that are currently reserved for a few countries of the global North”, he points out in his Committee public statement.
The Committee added that the persistent refusal to accept a waiver of the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS Agreement) raises concerns regarding the obligations of States parties under the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination and the obligation to guarantee non-discrimination.
Priority to human rights
It also urged States Parties to prioritize human rights issues and incorporate strict human rights guarantees, including a mechanism that commits governments to suspend intellectual property rights in a health crisis.
This mechanism, the Committee explained, should be included in the draft agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response that is currently being negotiated at the WHO.
It also calls on the States Parties of the global North to provide resources so that “the poorest States can meet the basic medical capacities that they are now expected to have under the International Health Regulations, and so that vaccines, relevant medicines and other equipment and necessary supplies are available to all.”
The Committee’s early warning and urgent action procedures, under the Convention, are primarily intended to examine situations that could escalate into conflict, in order to take appropriate preventive measures to prevent large-scale human rights violations.