Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla described 2021 as a “watershed moment” that provides a “timely opportunity to reflect on the effectiveness of the UN” in achieving its goals and objectives set out 75 years ago. (PTI PHOTO.)
Foreign Secretary Harsh Shringla described 2021 as a “watershed moment” that provides a “timely opportunity to reflect on the effectiveness of the UN” in achieving its goals and objectives set out 75 years ago. (PTI PHOTO.)

Waiver of patent protections key step for scaling up manufacture, availability of vaccines: Shringla

The pandemic has sharpened awareness about global interdependence, and the lack of a coordinated global response has exposed the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the contemporary multilateral system, the foreign secretary said.
UPDATED ON MAY 07, 2021 10:46 PM IST

India’s proposal at the World Trade Organization (WTO) for waiver of patent protections for Covid-19 vaccines is an important step for ensuring the rapid scaling up of manufacture and availability of vaccines, foreign secretary Harsh Shringla said on Friday.

In a virtual address to a UN Security Council debate on international peace and security and multilateralism, he said the challenges of today’s interdependent world cannot be addressed by outdated systems and a reformed Security Council is at the core of India’s call for reformed multilateralism.

India has worked with South Africa and other partners in the WTO “to seek a relaxation in the norms of the TRIPS agreement to ensure quick and affordable access to vaccines and medicines for developing countries during the Covid-19 pandemic”, Shringla said.

“This waiver will be an important step for enabling the rapid scaling up of manufacture and timely availability of affordable Covid-19 vaccines and essential medical products on a global basis,” he said, days after the US administration announced it backs a temporary suspension of patent protections for vaccines.

India, he pointed out, provided Covid-19 vaccines, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment to more than 150 countries over the past year, and is now extending appreciation to “those that have come forward to provide us with some priority requirements to battle the second wave” of the pandemic.

Shringla said the challenges of today’s dynamic and interdependent world, including terrorism, pandemics, climate change, threats from emerging technologies, disruptive role of non-state actors and intensifying geopolitical competition, can’t be addressed by outdated systems designed to deal with problems of the past.

“While the UN has addressed most of these issues somewhat partially and intermittently, our collective effort has nonetheless fallen short in providing effective and enduring solutions, particularly due to the infirmities within the multilateral system,” he said.

Shringla described 2021 as a “watershed moment” that provides a “timely opportunity to reflect on the effectiveness of the UN” in achieving its goals and objectives set out 75 years ago.

The pandemic has sharpened awareness about global interdependence, and the lack of a coordinated global response has exposed the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the contemporary multilateral system, he added.

“At the core of India’s call for reformed multilateralism lies the reform of the UN Security Council, reflective of the contemporary realities of today. When power structures continue to reflect the status quo of a bygone era, they also start reflecting a lack of appreciation of contemporary geopolitical realities,” he said.

Multilateral institutions must be made more accountable to members, and the Security Council must be more representative of developing countries in order to deliver effective solutions, Shringla said.

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