World leaders call for multilateral cooperation to overcome pandemic

In a joint appeal, six world leaders called for more multilateral cooperation as a recipe to overcome global challenges and steer the world towards recovery.

French President Emmanuel Macron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, Senegalese President Macky Sall, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel all signed off on the letter.

The leaders said that over the last few decades two major crises - the coronavirus pandemic more recently and climate change more generally - had impeded societies and common policy frameworks, "casting doubt on our capacity to overcome shocks, address their root causes, and secure a better future for generations to come." 

They added that at the same time, both problems served as a reminder of how interdependent the world was and how intertwined its problems could be.

Calling the COVID-19 crisis "the greatest test of global solidarity in generations," the leaders urged for a strong and harmonized international retaliation to the pandemic that increases the scope for access to tests, treatments and vaccines.

"It has reminded us of an obvious fact: in the face of a pandemic, our health safety chain is only as strong as the weakest health system. COVID-19 anywhere is a threat to people and economies everywhere," the statement said.

In their bid to promote cooperation, the leaders extended their support to the Access to COVID-19 Tools (ACT) Accelerator, a global platform launched by the World Health Organization and G20 partners last year.

"In the longer term, we also need an independent and comprehensive evaluation of our response to draw all the lessons of this pandemic and better prepare for the next one. The WHO has a central role to play in this process," the appeal read.

The leaders said that while globalization and international cooperation had helped billions out of poverty, nearly half the global population was still toiling to meet basic needs. They also noted that the pandemic directly put at risk the considerable gains combating poverty in recent years, as well as other societal advances like improved school access for children and girls in particular.

"To meet these challenges, multilateralism is not just another diplomatic technique. It shapes a world order and is a very specific way of organizing international relations based on cooperation, the rule of law, collective action, and shared principles." the statement said. "Rather than pitting civilizations and values against one another, we must build a more inclusive multilateralism, respecting our differences as much as our common values enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights."


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