Travel of Special Envoy for the Sahel Region Dr. J. Peter Pham to Mali

30 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

Special Envoy for the Sahel Region Dr. J. Peter Pham will travel to Bamako, Mali from September 30 to October 3.  The Special Envoy will meet with the transitional government as well as civil society, religious leaders, and officials from the United Nations, African Union, G5 Sahel and the diplomatic community.  He will urge the transitional government to honor the commitments it has made to the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), including holding free and fair elections within 18 months.   He will also encourage efforts to combat corruption, address human rights concerns, reform electoral processes, and implement the 2015 Agreement for Peace and Reconciliation in Mali.

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Joint Statement on the Japan-United States Strategic Energy Partnership (JUSEP)

30 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

The text of the following statement was released by the Governments of the United States of America and Japan on the occasion of the Japan-United States Strategic Energy Partnership (JUSEP).

Begin Text:

Japan and the United States reaffirmed their joint commitment to maintaining open and competitive energy markets and strengthening energy security in the Indo-Pacific region at a virtual Japan-United States Strategic Energy Partnership (JUSEP) meeting on September 24 (EST)/25 (JST), 2020.  Both sides praised this year’s JUSEP achievements and recognized the importance of ongoing bilateral energy cooperation with an emphasis on LNG and emerging energy technology.  In addition, while working to mitigate the global effects of COVID-19, each country highlighted the progress of U.S.-Japan joint projects and discussed the importance of continued commercial engagement. The two governments also reviewed progress under the Japan-U.S.-Mekong Power Partnership (JUMPP) to strengthen Mekong power sectors, detailed in the Japan-U.S. Joint Ministerial Statement on JUMPP released on September 8, 2020 and Mekong-U.S. Partnership Joint Ministerial Statement released on the occasion of the First Mekong-U.S. Partnership Ministerial Meeting on September 11, 2020. Looking to the future, the United States and Japan discussed plans to hold a public-private event in the Indo-Pacific region in the coming months, and to further develop JUSEP to include a wider range of energy technology.

End Text.

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UN welcomes nearly $1 billion in recent pledges – to bolster access to lifesaving tests, treatments and vaccines to end COVID-19

30 Sep

New commitments from governments, international organizations and the private sector support unified approach to end pandemic, backing a response of unprecedented scale, scope and speed­—through the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator­—as pandemic claims more than 1 million lives

Recent Commitments at a Glance:

  • United Kingdom – £571m (US$ 732m) for COVAX pillar of the Access to COVID-19 Tools- (ACT) Accelerator, of which up to £500m (US$ 641m) is to support low- and middle-income countries. This includes a commitment to match £1 for every US$ 4 committed by others up to £250m (US$ 321m).
  • Canada - CAD 440m (US$ 332m) for the COVAX pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, of which CAD 220 (US$ 166m) is to support low & middle income countries 
  • Germany - EUR 100m (US$ 117m) for the COVAX pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, all of which is to support low and middle income countries 
  • Sweden - US$ 10m for the COVAX pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, all of which is to support low and middle income countries 
  • World Bank – US$ 12 billion to support developing countries to purchase COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are available (to be ratified by their shareholders)
  • A coalition of 16 pharmaceutical companies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation signed an agreement to cooperate on vaccine manufacturing and to scale up production

The United Nations and its partners today welcomed a monumental show of solidarity as governments, private sector, civil society and international organizations committed support to the Access to COVID-19 Tools- (ACT) Accelerator initiative launched by the World Health Organization alongside international partners.

Today, nearly US$1 billion in new financing has been committed to the initiative - the world’s most comprehensive multilateral end-to-end solution to the devastating COVID-19 pandemic.

The ACT-Accelerator, which was co-launched by the World Health Organization, European Commission, France and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation just five months ago, needs an additional US$35 billion to realize its goals of producing 2 billion vaccine doses, 245 million treatments and 500 million tests. The new commitments to the initiative are welcome and will be leveraged to catalyze further funding to continue the ACT-Accelerator’s groundbreaking work. 

Most urgently, the ACT-Accelerator requires US$15 billion to support immediate capacity-building—for research and development, manufacturing, procurement and delivery systems—by the end of the year. 

Convening a high-level event at the 75th Session of the UN General Assembly to urgently mobilize support for the ACT-Accelerator, Secretary-General António Guterres commended on the “extraordinary international effort to address a human crisis like no other in our lifetimes,” adding that more efforts must be made to further “deepen” the remarkable progress so far. 

“It is in every country’s national and economic self-interest to work together to massively expand access to tests and treatments, and to support a vaccine as a global public good—a “people’s vaccine” available and affordable for everyone, everywhere.” 

”The ACT-Accelerator—including its COVAX Facility—is the vehicle to get us there. Investing in the ACT-Accelerator will accelerate every country’s own recovery,” said Mr. Guterres who co-hosted the event with the United Kingdom’s Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, and the Director-General of World Health Organization, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Unprecedented Global Collaboration

The ACT-Accelerator, which was launched just five months ago, is an unprecedented global collaboration of the world’s top international health organizations working together to accelerate the development, production, and equitable delivery of COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines.  

“We have a duty to ensure vaccines, treatments and tests for COVID-19 are available to all—stopping the global spread of the pandemic protects the British people and will put humanity on the road to recovery. Collaboration through the ACT-Accelerator is critical to promoting development, production and access for all countries,” said UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab. 

The United Kingdom recently committed up to £571m (approximately US$ 732m) for COVAX. This includes up to £500m for the Gavi Advanced Market Commitment for COVID-19 (COVAX AMC) vaccines—a financing instrument that incentivises vaccine manufacturers to produce sufficient COVID-19 vaccines to ensure access for developing countries.

Today, the UK Foreign Secretary called for more support, pledging that this £500m commitment would include £1 (IS$ 1.29) in matched funding for every US$4 committed by others for up to £250m (approximately US$ 321m). 

Germany, Canada and Sweden have also made new commitments to the COVAX AMC of Euro 100 million, CAD$ 220 million and US$ 10 million respectively. These are eligible for matching with today’s UK matching commitment.

”Science is giving us solutions, in the form of new tests, therapeutics and­—hopefully—a vaccine. But science and solutions will be ineffective without solidarity,” said Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General. 

“I am grateful for the generous financial commitments made today, but we still have a significant funding gap to close. Fully financing the ACT Accelerator will help to control the pandemic, restore confidence and stimulate the global recovery. Frankly, this is not a financial challenge, it’s a test of solidarity. This is a moment for saying no to nationalism and yes to our shared humanity. Because ultimately, the ACT Accelerator is not delivering merely vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics. It’s delivering something far more important—hope.”

“We must confront this health crisis as a global challenge, together in solidarity and cooperation with one another, working toward a global solution. We have to generate the key tests, treatments and vaccines that we all need, and make sure they are distributed equitably to people who most need them, regardless of where they live and whether their country is wealthy or not,” said South Africa’s Health Minister Zweli Mkhize, adding that large parts of the population especially in developing countries remain “vulnerable and marginalized during this pandemic.” 

Today’s event highlighted the substantial results achieved by the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator initiative since its launch: the availability of 120 million affordable and high-quality rapid tests for low- and middle-income countries; a breakthrough in trials with, and a rapid rollout of, Dexamethasone—the only drug found to make a significant difference to patient mortality; the creation of the COVAX Facility – the global mechanism to ensure equitable access to eventual COVID-19 vaccines regardless of income -comprising  168 economies and the largest and most diverse vaccine portfolio in the world, with nine candidate vaccines under evaluation, eight of them in clinical trials. 

In another significant show of support, a coalition of 16 pharmaceutical companies and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation signed an agreement to cooperate on vaccine manufacturing and to scale up production at an unprecedented speed, ensuring that approved vaccines are more broadly accessible and distributed as early as possible.  

Bill Gates, Co-Chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said “One thing I've learned studying the history of pandemics is that they create a surprising dynamic when it comes to self-interest and altruism. Pandemics are rare cases where a country’s instinct to help itself is tightly aligned with its instinct to help others. The self-interested thing and the altruistic thing–making sure poor nations have access to vaccines–are one and the same.”

“A number of countries, most recently the United Kingdom and Canada, are good models for what other wealthy nations should do. They have donated enough money for COVAX, the vaccine pillar of the ACT-Accelerator, to procure, probably, hundreds of millions of vaccine doses for poor countries. But more will be needed and I hope wealthy nations will continue to be generous.”  

The World Bank unveiled plans this week for a significant financial commitment to support developing countries to purchase COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are available. 

World Bank President David Malpass said that once the plans are ratified by stakeholders, “having up to US$ 12 billion available in finance will be a game changer because once a safe and effective vaccine is available, it will allow people to resume their lives with confidence.” 

Investing in Global Recovery

The ACT-Accelerator Investment Case illustrates the considerable economic benefits of collectively accelerating the development and deployment of tools to rapidly reduce the risk of severe COVID-19 disease globally. Prior to UNGA 2020, the ACT-Accelerator has raised US$3 billion out of a need of US$38 billion. More detail can be found in the Act-Accelerator investment case.

The economic rationale for investing in an approach that can accelerate the end of the COVID-19 crisis remains clear. Fully financing the initiative to help shorten the duration of the crisis would pay back this investment in less than 36 hours once global mobility and trade alone are restored. 

Notes to Editors

The Access to COVID-19 Tools ACT-Accelerator, is the proven, up-and-running global collaboration to accelerate the development, production, and equitable access to COVID-19 tests, treatments, and vaccines. It was set up in response to a call from G20 leaders in March and launched by the WHO, European Commission, France and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation in April 2020.

The ACT-Accelerator is not a decision-making body or a new organization, it  works to speed up collaborative efforts among existing organizations to end the pandemic. It is a framework for collaboration that has been designed to bring key players around the table with the goal of ending the pandemic as quickly as possible through the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of tests, treatments and vaccines, thereby protecting health systems and restoring societies and economies in the near term.

It draws on the experience of leading global health organizations which are tackling the world’s toughest health challenges, and who, by working together, are able to unlock new and more ambitious results against COVID-19. Its members share a commitment to ensure all people have access to all the tools needed to defeat COVID-19 and to work with unprecedented levels of partnership to achieve it. 

The ACT-Accelerator comprises four pillars: diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines and health system strengthening.

The diagnostics pillar, co-convened by the Global Fund and FIND, is focused on bringing to market 2–3 high-quality rapid tests, training 10 000 healthcare professionals across 50 countries and establishing testing for 500 million people in Low and Middle-Income countries by mid-2021. 

The therapeutics pillar is led by Unitaid and The Wellcome Trust. Therapeutics can play a role in all stages of COVID-19 disease: to prevent infection; suppress symptoms and spread of infection to others; treat or prevent symptoms; as a life-saving treatment for severe symptoms; and as a treatment that can speed up recovery. The aim in the next 12 months is to develop, manufacture and distribute 245 million treatments, helping COVID-19 sufferers to recover from the disease. 

The vaccines pillar, convened by CEPI, Gavi and WHO, is speeding up the search for an effective vaccine for all countries. At the same time, it is supporting the building of manufacturing capabilities, and buying supply, ahead of time so that 2 billion doses can be fairly distributed by the end of 2021.

The health systems connector pillar, led by the World Bank and the Global Fund, is working to ensure that these tools can reach the people who need them.

Cross cutting all of these is the workstream on Access & Allocation, hosted by the World Health Organization.

For more information, please visit:

WHO ACT-Accelerator Website: who.int/initiatives/act-accelerator

Status Report & Plan: bit.ly/ACTAcceleratorStatusReport

Economic Investment Case: bit.ly/ACTAcceleratorInvestmentCase

UN COVID-19 Response Portal: un.org/en/coronavirus

Archived video of the event is available on UN Web TV

 

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The United States and the Holy See: Promoting Religious Freedom and Defending Human Dignity

30 Sep

Office of the Spokesperson

“On the issues of human dignity and religious freedom, these issues that transcend everyday politics, on the enduring struggle of the individual’s right to believe and worship, we must – and I know we will – march together.”

 – U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo, October 2, 2019

Secretary Pompeo will visit Vatican City and participate in a symposium, “Advancing and Defending International Religious Freedom through Diplomacy,” hosted by the U.S. Embassy to the Holy See on September 30, 2020.  During his visit, the Secretary will meet with Vatican Secretary of State Cardinal Pietro Parolin and Secretary for Relations with States Archbishop Paul Gallagher to discuss the many ways the United States and the Holy See work together to advance peace, freedom, and human dignity around the world.

THE UNITED STATES COUNTS ON THE HOLY SEE AS A PARTNER AND FRIEND

  • The United States and the Holy See celebrated 35 years of formal diplomatic relations in 2019. Our partnership today remains as strong as ever, built on common values, mutual respect, and moral leadership.  We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Holy See to protect and promote human rights, advance religious freedom, combat human trafficking, and seek peaceful solutions to crises around the world.
  • The Holy See has formal diplomatic relations with 183 countries and moral influence with more than 1.3 billion Catholics worldwide, as well as with millions of non-Catholics. An important partner with a global presence, the Holy See can deliver messages and aid people in places other actors struggle to reach.
  • With U.S. support, Catholic faith-based organizations have provided basic healthcare and necessities to the most vulnerable, particularly during the COVID-19 emergency. Globally, some 5,000 Catholic hospitals and more than 16,000 church-based dispensaries are complementing and reinforcing the efforts of governments to provide healthcare to all, especially to the vulnerable.
  • Everyone deserves the right to worship freely without the threat of persecution and political interference. Upholding the right to religious freedom represents not just a moral necessity, but also a national-security imperative for the United States.  Governments that uphold religious freedom are safer, more prosperous, and secure.
  • The United States stands with the Holy See to encourage religious freedom and tolerance through interreligious dialogue. The United States looks forward to continued work with Pope Francis and the Vatican to advance interfaith dialogue and religious freedom.

ADVANCING AND DEFENDING INTERNATIONAL RELIGIOUS FREEDOM THROUGH DIPLOMACY SYMPOSIUM

  • The U.S. Embassy to the Holy See symposium, “Advancing and Defending International Religious Freedom through Diplomacy,” is an opportunity to highlight U.S. government support for persecuted religious minorities, particularly in China and the Middle East. It will also emphasize the many ways the United States collaborates with the Holy See and faith-based organizations, and it will reaffirm U.S. commitment to promoting and defending religious freedom everywhere.
  • The symposium follows the Secretary’s participation in the 2019 U.S. Embassy to the Holy See symposium, “Pathways to Achieving Human Dignity:  Partnering with Faith Based Organizations.”  That event highlighted the important work faith-based organizations do to promote religious freedom, combat human trafficking, and deliver humanitarian assistance around the world.

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