Thoughts on the developments at the 75th UN General Assembly
This article was published on 9 October 2020 at the Italian site The Other News.
The United States of Trump tried everything to derail the 75th UN General Assembly and thus jeopardise the future of the United Nations. The president of China, XI Jinping, by unexpectedly declaring on 24 September that his country had just approved the decision to achieve carbon neutrality by 2060, saved the GA a little and opened up a new path of hope for the UN in the future, notably the possible relaunch of the Paris Agreements. Fortunately, because the powerful global masters of business and finance, for their part, gave no evidence of wanting to stray so far from their “business as usual”.
On the front line of the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic, they have maintained their credo (Money First, Market First, Stakeholders First) by obtaining these last few weeks from rich States (in rivalry with each other to support their multinational “champions”- billions of dollars in the form of Advanced Market Commitments for vaccines (still in conception!).
This explains why the GA failed to organise a special session on Covid-19. Participants were limited to listening to or reading the analyses and proposals presented by each State and the other members of the Assembly. No debates.
Finally, there was no audacity either within the great magma of world political and social “bonism”. Its largest majority remained submitted to the dominant liberal capitalist economic vision of society. Citizens must still wait for a special session on Covid-19. On Monday 5 October, the presidency of the GA confirmed its holding, hoping that it could take place before the end of the year, but the dates have yet to be fixed.
Because of the devastating power of the pandemic, the UN GA was intended to be a unique opportunity for the deployment of bold thoughts, proposals and decisions. Well, until now, the peoples of the world have been “gratified » by many fireworks of “vaccine” nationalisms (First our people). Proposals for stronger global cooperation have not received the great enthusiasm they deserve. International multilateralism as a model of coping with global problems has once again proved to be inadequate and fragile. The argument made by the UN Secretary General in a last resort statement on 25 September in favour of strong global cooperation against the pandemic (“We do not need a world government but stronger multilateralism”) did not have the desired effect. Trying to attract the consensus of anti-internationalist States in favour of world cooperation according to the UN model by discrediting “world government” was not a happy idea. The recognition of humanity as a key legal and political entity in global regulation should be one of the UN’s main long-term goals.
In fact, the spirit that blew over this phase of the UN General Assembly was marked by three mystifying principles :
a) the strategy of equitable and affordable access “for all” to vital goods and services, applied without any nuance to the field of health and, therefore, to the fight against Covid-19.Over the past 30 years, this strategy guided the international community choices and committments . It has not been able to resolve any of the deep global and intra-national inequalities in the right to health, water, food, housing…. . How dare the leaders of the world continue to propose it?
b) Maintaining the principle of the for-profit privatisation of patents on life (including vaccines) and all health services. Far from being the solution to the problems, patents have proven to be at the root of the problems, as one of the main causes of the private expropriation of life in the interests of the richest, of the enslavement of research and innovation to money and military power, of the weakness and submission of public policy to the powers of the big pharmaceutical and agro-chemical corporations;
c) the opening to an apparent recognition of health, vaccines in particular, as “global public goods” thanks to a mystifying change in the meaning of the concept of “public good” and “world public good” to which the UN system has contributed, since the 2000s, in accordance with the spirit of “global economic governance”.
What do social “climatologists” think? Is a reversal of the current trend foreseeable? In any case, I think that it is worthwhile for the inhabitants of the earth to try to provoke it.
Brussels, 8 October 2020
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Doctor of Political and Social Sciences, honorary degree from eight universities: in Sweden, Denmark, Belgium (x2), Canada, France (x2), Argentina. Professor emeritus of the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium); President of the Institut Europeen de Recherche sur la Politique de l’Eau (IERPE) in Brussels (www.ierpe.eu); President of the “University of the Common Good” (UBC), a non-profit association active in Antwerp (Belgium) and Sezano (VR-Italy) From 1978 to 1994 he headed the department FAST, Forecasting and Assessment in Science and Technology at the Commission of the European Communities in Brussels and in 2005-2006 he was President of the Apulian Aqueduct. He is the author of numerous books on economics and common goods.