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World health, solidarity and multilateral diplomacy under serious test

By Ioan Voicu - posted Monday, 20 April 2020

The context

In the midst of the most horrendous global health crisis to confront the entire human family in recent decades, the World Health Organizations (WHO) and the United Nations (UN) are under an unprecedented political attack from many directions. Why such attacks , when there is a consensus that international organizations cannot be better than the countries composing them?

Indeed, the novel coronavirus (officially named COVID-19) is now an obvious global danger, and there are strong reasons to ask to what extent the world community of nations is prepared to successfully cope with this pandemic.In a memorable sentence , Henry Kissinger summarized the situation as follows :"The reality is the world will never be the same after the coronavirus".


However, the question is not a new one , as 193 UN Member States attempted several times to answer it in advance .On 11 December 2019 in a comprehensive resolution (11 pages,41 operative paragraphs) adopted by consensus and circulated worldwide on 28 January 2020 under the title Global health and foreign policy: an inclusive approach to strengthening health systems offered persuasive warnings and recommendations which deserved universal attention.

That resolution was prepared, negotiated and promoted with the active

participation of the WHO (194 members) and is a positive result of the efforts of multilateral diplomacy practiced under the auspices of the UN system, WHO being a specialized agency in this global family.

Today ,as estimated, at the highest political level , the world faces its gravest test since the founding of the UN in 1945.

At present, when mass-media inform us every day about the dangerous proliferation of COVID-19 on all continents, it is unexplainable and inexcusable to keep that document/resolution only in the files of persons directly involved in the negotiations, consultations, drafting and adoption process of the above-mentioned diplomatic instrument .



The efficient implementation of this resolution must be on the priority list of all competent factors at the local , national, regional and planetary levels. The resolution specifically warns that many of the underlying determinants of health and risk factors of communicable diseases are associated with social, economic, environmental and behavioural conditions.

The coronavirus demonstrates in a persuasive manner the topicality of the strong reminder of the resolution under consideration about the real need for health systems to be strong, resilient, functional, well- governed, responsive, accountable, integrated, community-based, people-centred and capable of quality service delivery, supported by a competent health workforce, adequate health infrastructure, enabling legislative and regulatory frameworks, as well as sufficient and sustainable funding.

The ordinary readers of the resolution might be tempted to think that its recommendations belong to the area of wishful thinking. They would be right in their pessimism , if this resolution is not put into effect by the decision-making bodies at the national level. The UN General Assembly acknowledged that, owing to antimicrobial resistance, many achievements of the twentieth century are being gravely challenged, in particular, the reduction in illness and death from infectious diseases.

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About the Author

Dr Ioan Voicu is a Visiting Professor at Assumption University in Bangkok

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Related Links
COVID-19 - Joint Declaration of the Alliance for Multilateralism (16 Apr. 2020)

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