Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the high-level thematic debate convened by President of UN General Assembly

25 february 2022, 20:36
Speech by Ilham Aliyev at the high-level thematic debate convened by President of UN General Assembly

Mr. President,

Mr. Secretary-General,

I have the honour to make this statement on behalf of the Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement.

The Member States of the Non-Aligned Movement highly commend the initiative of the President of the General Assembly Mr. Abdulla Shahid to convene this High-Level Thematic Debate on universal vaccination in combatting COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s meeting takes place amid the persisting challenges related to uneven access to quality, safe, effective and affordable COVID-19 vaccines in the world.

We highlight the fundamental role of the United Nations system in coordinating the global response to control and contain the spread of COVID-19, and in providing support to States. In this regard, we acknowledge the crucial leading role played by the World Health Organization.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, NAM has actively engaged in mobilizing the efforts of the wider international community, in the spirit of multilateralism, cooperation and solidarity, to address the pandemic and its negative consequences through a number of successful undertakings.

Such important initiatives as convening in December 2020 of the Special Session of the United Nations General Assembly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, adoption in March and December of last year, respectively, by the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly of the resolutions titled “Ensuring equitable, affordable, timely and universal access for all countries to vaccines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic”, were all put forward on behalf of NAM Member States.

A global emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic requires a global response. Yet the low availability of COVID-19 vaccines in low- and middle-income countries proves that there is still much to be done in this respect.

The disparity between developing countries and developed countries in terms of the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines prevents the entire international community from achieving the complete elimination of the pandemic as soon as possible. Moreover, it further hampers the progress in the realization of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

It is important to maintain the continued functioning of the health system and strengthening of primary health care in all relevant aspects necessary for an effective public health response to the pandemic. Measures in this regard should include inter alia ensuring the continuation of undisrupted vaccination programs with a view to achieving universal health coverage.

We also welcome the efforts of countries which have donated COVID-19 vaccines, and actively encourage further sharing of vaccines doses from all countries in a position to do so to low- and middle-income countries and other countries in need. In this context, we appreciate and support the works of COVAX Facility and the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, including the COVAX Advance Market Commitment Engagement, as well as other constructive related initiatives to ensure affordable, equitable, universal and timely access to COVID-19 vaccines for all. Further, noting the challenging circumstances faced by United Nations Peacekeepers, we welcome the efforts of countries for donating COVID-19 vaccines to UN Peace Operations.

It is important that all States, international organizations and relevant stakeholders commit to transparency in all matters relating to the production, distribution and fair pricing of vaccines, in accordance with national and regional legal frameworks. Equally significant is that States take immediate steps to prevent speculation and undue export controls and stockpiling that may hinder affordable, timely, equitable and universal access for all countries to COVID-19 vaccines.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Non-Aligned Movement stands ready to continue its active engagement in advancing international solidarity, which would allow the soonest possible elimination of the pandemic and effective recovery process. In this regard, our Movement will come up with new result-oriented initiatives on addressing post-COVID-19 recovery needs.

Distinguished participants,

Now, I would like to make the following statement in my national capacity.

Azerbaijan continues to take solid and adequate measures against the COVID-19 to keep the pandemic under control.

We launched an immunization campaign in January 2021. So far, 68 per cent of the adult population in the country has received two shots.

$ 1.6 billion of a financial assistance package to support COVID-affected people and businesses is allocated from the state budget for this year.

Azerbaijan has undertaken important global initiatives to boost international solidarity against the pandemic and to counter "vaccine nationalism" and inequality between developing and developed countries in access to vaccines. The Special Session of the UN General Assembly, resolutions on equitable and universal access to vaccines are vivid examples to that end. Taking this opportunity I express our gratitude to all Member States which supported these endeavours.

As a sign of solidarity, Azerbaijan has provided financial and humanitarian assistance to about 80 countries directly and through World Health Organization in order to support their fight against the coronavirus. Furthermore, we have donated vaccines to 5 countries and we will continue to do so. Presently, we are in the process of donating around one million doses of COVID-19 vaccines to 14 NAM Member States.

We are currently working on convening another high-level meeting of the NAM Member States to exchange views and formulate the position of the Movement concerning the post-COVID-19 period. We also advocate for establishing the UN High-Level Panel on Global Recovery from the Covid-19 which could prepare concrete recommendations on global measures. We count on your further support for our initiatives.

In conclusion, I wish you a very successful meeting and fruitful deliberations.