UN General Assembly adopts first Vietnam-initiated resolution

The United Nations (UN) General Assembly on December 7 approved Resolution proclaiming December 27 as the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness. It is the first resolution proposed by Vietnam.

A medical staff arrange samples collected from arrivals for the new coronavirus testing at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi, March 2020. Photo by VnExpress/Giang Huy.

The world is still struggling with the new coronavirus, which emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year and quickly spread globally.

More than 1.55 million have died of the respiratory disease caused by the virus out of 67.93 million infected. The US, India and Brazil have the largest number of cases in the world.

As the COVID-19 pandemic is still ravaging the globe, causing devastating impacts on human lives and wreaking havoc on long-term social and economic development, Vietnam’s initiative has received wide support from UN member states. The resolution has been co-written by Vietnam and other countries, including Canada, Niger, Senegal, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Spain, with 107 others co-sponsoring.

It calls on all UN member states, organisations of the UN system and other global, regional and sub-regional organisations, private sector and civil society, including non-governmental organizations, academic institutions, individuals and other relevant stakeholders to observe the International Day of Epidemic Preparedness annually in an appropriate manner and in accordance with national contexts and priorities, through education and awareness-raising activities, in order to highlight the importance of the prevention of, preparedness for and partnership against epidemics.

Introducing the draft resolution, Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN, said COVID-19 is not the first epidemic that the world has faced in the past years, and it will not be the last.

“In the future, another epidemic can break out at any moment and surpass previous incidences in terms of intensity and gravity if preparation is not made,” he said.

“The pandemic caught us off guard, but it also has served as a wake-up call for improving our preparedness,” the ambassador noted.

Ambassador Dang Dinh Quy, Permanent Representative of Vietnam to the UN. Photo: VNA

He went on to say that observing an International Day on Epidemic Preparedness will be a prominent way to achieve this goal, as the day will remind all stakeholders of the impacts left by recent past epidemics and the need to have a permanent sense of epidemic prevention in all of their activities.

“In addition, it will underline the need to raise the level of preparedness in order to have the earliest and most adequate response to any epidemic that may arise,” he continued.

“Last but not least, it will stress the importance of partnership among every individual, community, state, and also regional and international organizations in all stages of epidemic management,” Quy added.

"Given that the General Assembly has previously declared international days devoted to chess, yoga and toilets it only seems fair that epidemics should have their day too," Reuters quoted International Crisis Group UN director Richard Gowan as saying.

"A lot of smaller and poorer states worry that they won't have any part in real decisions about the coronavirus vaccine or recovery."

The International Day of Epidemic Preparedness will be observed annually on December 27, the date of birth of French biologist, microbiologist, and chemist Louis Pasteur who has been renowned worldwide for his discoveries of the principles of vaccination, microbial fermentation and pasteurization.

The resolution also invites all member states, U.N. organizations, other global and regional organizations, civil society, academic institutions, individuals, and other stakeholders to observe the day annually through education and awareness-raising activities.

The assembly said without international attention future epidemics could surpass previous outbreaks in terms of intensity and gravity, and emphasized the need to raise awareness, exchange information, scientific knowledge and best practices, ensure quality education, and run advocacy programs on epidemics.

Pham Mai