Statement by Permanent Representative Vassily Nebenzia at an open VTC of UNSC members on the implementation of resolution 2532 (2020)
We thank our briefers for the information they shared. We appreciate the initiative of the British Presidency to convene this VTC on issues related to countering the pandemic of the novel coronavirus.
One of the key elements of this action is ensuring equitable universal access to COVID-19 vaccines. To do this, we need to have a portfolio of effective and safe solutions, help interested Member States deliver the vaccines to those in need. In our view, most of these issues are prerogatives of specialized mechanisms of the UN system – the WHO, the General Assembly, and ECOSOC in the first place. We proceed from the assumption that general discussion of this topic goes beyond the competence of the Security Council. However, we are ready to discuss the progress of UNSC resolution 2532 in the context SC activity.
COVID-19 pandemic is a tough ordeal for all of us. It shows that it is impossible to ensure epidemiological safety of a separate country, and that international collective efforts are vital. Russia supports the central role of the WHO as a multilateral mechanism coordinating global response to healthcare emergencies while respecting sovereignty of its Member States.
Unfortunately, the global outbreak of COVID-19 has not spared states in a situation of armed conflict, and now it threatens to further aggravate the already dire humanitarian consequences. Armed action obstructs effective implementation of anti-epidemic measures, poses a threat to medical infrastructure, and diverges governmental resources from covering the needs of public healthcare. That is why Russia was among the first to support the call of the Secretary-General to a global ceasefire. Now we consistently highlight the need to introduce a humanitarian pause in conflict zones. Thereby we stress once again that in accordance with resolution 2532 those measures do not apply to operations against internationally recognized terrorist groups who seek to benefit from the current situation and win advantage on the ground. We are also convinced that amidst a coronavirus outbreak, risks of humanitarian deterioration in armed conflicts should be considered in the context of concrete country situations that stand on the UNSC agenda.
Though COVID-related restrictions create new specific challenges for UN peacekeeping operations, so far the Organization has managed to avoid any serious negative impact of such limitations. In terms of countering the pandemic, Security Council efforts should focus on supporting the activity of peacekeeping operations, ensuring that settlement processes run uninterrupted, and implementing the universal ceasefire initiative. In this regard, we commend the efforts of the UN Secretariat aimed at prompt vaccination of peacekeeping contingents, taken in close contact with the relevant “group of friends” constituted by the interested states. We believe that inoculations themselves must proceed on a voluntary basis.
We have to remind once again that UNSC resolution 2532 among other things also supports Secretary-General’s call to lift illegal unilateral sanctions that undermine capacities of affected countries (especially developing countries) to counter the pandemic, and ensure socio-economic recovery from its effects. Insistent attempts of those who support this illegitimate practice to silence down this issue at the United Nations or dismiss it for good referring to the invalid “humanitarian exemptions” do not solve this problem. In this regard we remind of the initiative by President of Russia V.Putin to create “green corridors”, free from trade wars and sanctions to deliver basic-need goods and medications to the states in need.
Russia makes a meaningful contribution to the global fight against COVID-19, i.a. in the context of ensuring access to safe and effective vaccination for the world population. Russian vaccines against the coronavirus were among the first in the world. Two of them – Sputnik-V (based on adenoviral platform) and EpiVacCorona (peptide platform), have already been registered and made available for civil circulation. The third Russian vaccine named “CoviVac” is based on the neutralized coronavirus. Now it is at an advanced stage, with registration pending.
Results of the clinical trials of Sputnik-V, published recently in reputable medical magazine “The Lancet”, prove its high effectiveness and safety. As of today Sputnik-V, which is easy to store and transport, has been approved of in 27 states of Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, North and Latin America. It ranks among top three leading COVID-19 vaccines by the number of permits issued. The WHO is considering bids to enter our vaccines on the Emergency Use Listing.
We cannot but agree with Secretary of State Blinken that vaccine defamation is unacceptable and that we need to consolidate our efforts.
Russia also contributes to combating the pandemic by having dispatched about 20 medical missions to 15 countries and having sent testing systems to 50 states, while also supplying thousands items of equipment and millions items of PPE on a gratuitous basis. We build upon our contacts with the ACT-Accelerator, and we are also open for cooperation with all interested partners to foster accessibility of Russian vaccines, medications, and PPE through localization of their production. We are ready to engage in other formats of international cooperation to counter the pandemic by joint efforts.
In conclusion, we note that the Council is largely united in favor of conjugating efforts in this area and against any abuse of vaccines for whatever purposes. As of today, it is the most important assistance that we can render to those in need. We reiterate our call that can be applied to other types of assistance as well: we call to ensure depoliticized assistance and prevent any political conditions for it.
I thank you.