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Statements Multiple Mechanisms

HLPF 2022, statement by Mr. Mihir Kanade, Chair

06 July 2022

Delivered by

Mr. Mihir Kanade Chair of the Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development


High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development


New York

Thank you Your Excellency,

I participate today in this panel in my capacity as the Chair of the UN Human Rights Council’s Expert Mechanism on the Right to Development, and so in response to your question, I will focus my intervention especially on the human rights aspects of the discussions.

Last year, the Expert Mechanism submitted its thematic study to the Human Rights Council on operationalizing the right to development in realizing the SDGs, especially in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. We highlighted that the deceleration in progress on many of the SDGs even prior to the pandemic was unsurprising considering that there was annual deceleration since 2015 in realizing the 62 means of implementation targets. As you may recall, the 2030 Agenda identifies SDG 17 as the means of implementing all the preceding 16 SDGs. Similarly, the a, b, c targets in each of the first 16 goals are the means of implementing the corresponding goals where they are articulated. These means of implementation targets are about building a global partnership for development and hence States discharging their duty of international cooperation, which is at the heart of the right to development.

Failure of the duty to cooperate has been most conspicuous in the “vaccine nationalism” demonstrated by many rich countries. Combined with pre-ordering and preferential access agreements entered into by many, not all but a significant number of them, with vaccine producers as well as hoarding of vaccines, the effectiveness of the COVAX facility has been seriously undermined. Every month, hundreds of thousands of vaccines stockpiled for booster shots are simply expiring in wealthy countries. The COVID-19 Technology Access Pool has not met with any significant contributions. None of the G7 countries has endorsed the CTAP mechanism. Temporary waivers to TRIPS agreement at the WTO have been blocked and the recent compromise is a significantly watered-down version of what was proposed and needed. Africa CDC reports that as of today, only 19% of the population on average in the African continent has been fully vaccinated.  Ladies and gentlemen, we have heard often about how the lack of international cooperation during the pandemic is a moral catastrophe. Yes, it is. But international cooperation is an international legal obligation not just a soft moral call for generosity or charity. We also need to say, and let’s not be hesitant about this, that what we continue to witness is a direct violation of human rights, including the right to development, of billions of people in the poorer countries. It is a violation by many wealthy countries of their obligation of international cooperation.

And to conclude, if we are to get things right in responding to current and future pandemics, including access to vaccines, our international normative frameworks and policies ought to be based on international cooperation as a duty and not as a charity which is the business-as-usual model, and development as a right of all human beings and peoples everywhere, not as a privilege of few.