Statement by Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas at the ministerial meeting of the Alliance for Multilateralism on the margins of the High Level Segment of the United Nations Human Rights Council

24.02.2021 - Speech

One year ago, we held our last in person meeting in Geneva. Soon afterwards, the world went into lockdown.

But today, even though we are only meeting virtually, there is new hope: Thanks to global cooperation, effective vaccines were developed quicker than ever before in history.

As early as April 2020, our alliance had called for treating vaccines as “global public goods”. Now, we have to deliver on this commitment.

This means strengthening the multilateral health infrastructure that we have built during the pandemic – particularly the ACT-Accelerator and COVAX, its vaccine pillar. They remain the best tools to avoid a global run on vaccines in which all of us would lose.

Dear colleagues, dear friends,

Last week, Germany therefore pledged an additional amount of 1.5 billion euro for the ACT-Accelerator. This brings our contribution to 2.1 billion euro, making us the single biggest donor. We also welcome the recent new contributions announced by the United States, the European Union, Japan, Canada and others.

Now, we must work together to ensure that COVAX also gets the necessary vaccines. I am particularly happy to see the first delivery of COVAX vaccines arrive in Ghana today. Other locations will follow this week.

At the same time, we should look beyond the current virus. We invite you all to contribute to the resolution on strengthening the World Health Organisation’s global emergency preparedness and response, which the European Union has tabled in the run-up to the World Health Assembly in May.

Dear colleagues,

One of the pandemic’s side effects was the boost it gave to the digital revolution. New technologies create opportunities, but also entail risks.

How do we protect human rights online as much as offline? And how do we make sure that artificial intelligence reduces discrimination instead of reinforcing it?

These are questions we should work on together. And I hope you will support a new resolution of the Human Rights Council that would extend the mandate of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Privacy into the digital sphere.

Finally, ladies and gentlemen,

the fight against the pandemic must not distract our attention from other existential threats – climate change for instance.

Last year, many countries and the European Union set themselves more ambitious climate goals. Now, words need to be followed by action.

One issue our alliance is looking at is the negative consequences of climate change on human rights.

We are therefore encouraging those of you who have not yet done so to join the Geneva Pledge – to foster cooperation between the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Human Rights Council.

Dear friends,

The pandemic, the digital revolution and climate change remain the top challenges of our times.

It is on us to show that multilateralism is the answer. That multilateralism delivers.

This is the purpose of our group and this meeting today.

Thank you all for being a part of it! And now it is my great pleasure to hand over directly to you, dear Jean-Yves.


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