Back in Geneva: New Frontiers for Human Rights. Pandemic Preparedness and Response
Ministerial Meeting in Geneva (24 February 2021)
One year after its first meeting in Geneva, the Alliance for Multilateralism has developed into an important forum for promoting joint solutions to global challenges by strengthening multilateral cooperation. Last year’s meeting in Geneva turned out to be the last physical meeting of the Alliance before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the entire world, and focus has been put on promoting joint responses, acting in solidarity and developing approaches to build back better. This continues to be the most pressing issue for international collaboration in 2021. This year, the Alliance convened again (virtually) in the margins of the High Level Segment of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. The meeting looked into new challenges for human rights (digital issues and climate change) and preparedness and response to health crises, while also taking into account the gender dimension.
Panelists gave insight into various initiatives such as the Freedom Online Coalition, the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence or the Geneva Pledge for Human Rights in Climate Action. Next to almost 50 Foreign Ministers from across the globe, the hosts – Foreign Minister of Germany, H.E. Heiko Maas and Foreign Minister of France, H.E. Jean-Yves Le Drian, welcomed high-level speakers from the UNHCHR ( High Commissioner Michelle Bachelet), the UNFCCC (Executive Secretary Patricia Espinosa), the UNESCO (Director General Audrey Azoulay), the European Union (High Representative and Vice-President Josep Borrell) as well as representatives from NGOs (Christophe Deloire, Chair of the Forum on Information and Democracy.
In his opening remarks Federal Foreign Minister Heiko Maas underlined the importance of multilateral cooperation: “It is on us to show that multilateralism is the answer. That multilateralism delivers.” Especially when it comes to pandemic response: “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.”
On the same day, the first delivery of COVAX vaccines arrived in Ghana.