UNO Commemorated the first International Day of Epidemic Preparedness

“This first observance of the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness falls at the end of a year in which a scenario many had feared came tragically true … As we strive to control and recover from the current pandemic, we must think about the next,” Secretary-General António Guterres said in a message. Today is the first ever International Day of #EpidemicPreparedness. WHO calls on countries to invest their capacities to prevent, detect & mitigate emergencies of all kinds.

He also highlighted the need for strong health systems and social protection, support for communities on the frontlines, and technical cooperation for countries. “Across this work, science must be our guide. Solidarity and coordination are crucial, within and among countries; no one is safe unless all of us are safe,” the Secretary-General added. Mr. Guterres also honoured medical professionals, front-line personnel and essential workers globally for their “remarkable commitment” in face of the coronavirus pandemic. “As we recover from the pandemic, let us resolve to build up our prevention capacities so that we are ready when the world faces the next outbreak,” he urged. 

We cannot be complacent: Similarly, Volkan Bozkir, President of the General Assembly, underscored that the “devastating experience” of the COVID-19 pandemic has made clear, the benefits of tackling epidemics. “If we ready ourselves, then we can save lives and stop epidemics from developing into pandemics,” he said, adding that COVID-19 “must be our final warning.” “We cannot afford to be complacent, and we must learn from our mistakes.” Mr. Bozkir urged everyone to join him in trusting science, supporting early warning mechanisms, and standing together in solidarity.  

“We will prepare as we have never prepared before – so that epidemics and pandemics can no longer cause the kind of suffering we have seen across the globe this year,” the President of the General Assembly urged. In a separate message, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the UN World Health Organization (WHO) highlighted the importance of a “One Health Approach”, which integrates human health, animal health and plant health, as well as environmental factors. This is all the more important given that 75 per cent of new and emerging human infectious diseases are zoonotic, caused by germs that spread between animals and people. 

“Any efforts to improve human health are doomed unless they address the critical interface between human and animals,” said Dr. Tedros. The head of WHO also urged countries to invest in preparedness capacity to prevent, detect and mitigate emergencies, and reiterated the importance of strong primary health systems as the foundation of universal health coverage as well as the “eyes and ears” of health systems everywhere. “True preparedness is not just a job of the health sector, it requires an all-of-government and all-of-society approach,” he added. 

The International Day: The International Day of Epidemic Preparedness, to be marked on 27 December annually, was proclaimed earlier this month by the General Assembly, to advocate the importance of the prevention of, preparedness for, and partnership against epidemics. The General Assembly also recognized the role of the UN system, in particular WHO, in coordinating responses to epidemics, and supporting efforts to prevent, mitigate and address the impacts of infectious diseases. This International Day falls on the birthdate of Louis Pasteur, the French chemist and microbiologist, responsible for ground-breaking work on vaccinations.

We Cannot Leave Actions and Evident Double Standards Without Reaction: Russia

NEW YORK, Dec 21, 2020: United Nations S/2020/1200 Security Council Distr.: General 21 December 2020 Original: English20-17520 (E) 231220 *2017520 *Letter dated 11 December 2020 from the Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation to the United Nations addressed to the President of the Security CouncilI would like to draw your attention to certain aspects of holding Arria-formula meetings, which the Russian Federation as well as other colleagues host from time to time.

Such gatherings are defined in the relevant note by the President of the Security Council (S/2017/507) as “a flexible and informal forum for enhancing ... deliberations” and there are no further relevant organizational details or understandings in any working methods of the Council. However, there has been a long-standing tradition among members of the Security Council to participate in such meetings organized by their colleagues, at least, out of respect to them, whether they approved or disapproved of the topic.

However, since recently we have been noticing attempts by some members of the Council to impede the holding of those “Arrias” that they do not like. While being unable to block these meetings, those countries choose not to participate in them while tryingto limit their audience by objecting to their webcast through the United Nations WebTV platform. That was the case, in particular, of the Arria-formula meetings organized by Russia on 21 May 2020 (follow-up to the previous Arria-formula discussion on the situation in Crimea, in which we participated), as well as 2December 2020 (implementation of the 2015 Minsk Package of Measures on the settlement in Ukraine: a year since the Paris “Normandie” summit).

We believe that this represents an attack on transparency and the freedom of opinion and expression, which is shameful per se, and not becoming of States members of the Security Council. In such circumstances, with attempts to revert to political censorship, we have no other choice but to act reciprocally. This is not our choice, but we cannot leave these actions and evident double standards without reaction.I would appreciate it if you could circulate the present letter as a document of the Security Council. (Signed) Vassily Nebenzia