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[WebDebate #47] Current diplomatic responses to COVID-19 

COVID-19 has posed tremendous challenges to diplomacy. Practices had to be adapted while diplomats had to address the immediate crisis situation and work towards coordinated responses. In this WebDebate, we focus on two current diplomatic responses to COVID-19: the COVAX (COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access) initiative, and the work done at the 46th session of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC).

Join us on Tuesday, 4th May, at 12:00 UTC (08:00 EDT | 14:00 CEST | 20:00 CST).

COVAX is a global initiative that aims at equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Through the initiative, 92 low- and middle-income economies are eligible to get access to COVID-19 vaccines. As of April 20 2021, it has shipped over 40.5 million COVID-19 vaccines to 118 participants. Diplomatic efforts such as the Friends of the COVAX Facility (FOF), led by Singapore and Switzerland, played an important role in making COVAX a reality.

In its 46th session, the HRC passed ‘Resolution 46/14 on Ensuring Equitable, Affordable, Timely and Universal Access for all Countries to Vaccines in Response to the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Pandemic’. It is worth unpacking the dynamics at the HRC and the discussion around this resolution.

In short, WebDebate #47 takes a closer look at the accomplishments and ongoing challenges of diplomatic responses to COVID-19. We feel that discussing the COVAX initiative and shining a light on the human rights dimension of the pandemic couldn’t be more timely.

Join our experts for the discussion.

Speakers

Amb. Umej Bhatia is Singapore’s permanent representative to the UN Office in Geneva. He joined the foreign service in 1996, and has served in various capacities on issues covering Southeast Asia, the Middle East, and the UN in Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Bhatia  served overseas as first secretary in Singapore’s Permanent Mission to the UN in New York (1999–2003), as an alternate representative for Singapore on the UN Security Council (2001–2002), as Singapore’s consul general in Dubai (2011–2012), as Singapore’s first resident ambassador to the United Arab Emirates (2013–2016), and as director general in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia (2017–2019).

Mr Marc Limon is executive director of the Universal Rights Group (URG), a think-tank focused on international human rights policy, with offices in Geneva, New York, and Bogota. Prior to founding the URG in 2013, Limon worked as a diplomat at the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) from the body’s establishment in 2006 until the end of 2012. This included participating in the negotiations on the institution-building package, on the Council’s midterm review, and on a wide range of thematic and country-specific issues. Limon was lead negotiator on nine different UN resolutions dealing with issues such as human rights and climate change, human rights and the environment, freedom of assembly and association, and the third Optional Protocol to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC). Alongside his colleague Subhas Gujadhur (Mauritius), he also established the HRC’s Voluntary Technical Assistance Trust Fund to Support the Participation of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDS).

About our WebDebates

Our WebDebates on the future of diplomacy are live-streamed on the first Tuesday of every month. They are organised by DiploFoundation within the framework of the International Forum on Diplomatic Training (IFDT). Learn more about our series of WebDebates here.