The External Affairs Minister (EAM) S Jaishanakar on Friday said that the World Health Assembly’s resolution, which seeks to probe the origin of the coronavirus COVID-19, is an “opportunity to use facts and science to assess our response to this pandemic”.
During the Virtual Ministerial Meeting of Alliance for Multilateralism of the WHA, the EAM added those lessons should be taken to prepare for a better future. He added, “As Chair of the WHO Executive Board, India is ready to work towards these goals.” The WHA is the decision-making body of the Geneva-based World Health Organization (WHO).
He also added that “we need to restore our faith in meaningful and equal partnerships”. “Trust, partnership and cooperation draw people, societies and countries together especially during crises, particularly when fake news and disease engender isolationism and unilateralism,” he stated.
“In this context, India was pleased to be part of a cross-regional group presenting a statement on the ongoing ‘Infodemic’ in the context of COVID-19 at the UN. As you know, it received wide political support from over 130 States and Observers. Our Alliance must also continue to take concrete steps to counter the ‘infodemic’ through its working group in this regard,” he added.
“It is an empirical fact that every process and institution must evolve to meet the needs of its time. No institution, howsoever important, can remain frozen at the moment of its foundation. Just as we need to consider the resourcing and regulatory parameters set out for the World Health Organization, to address and resolve shortcomings, so too do we need dispassionate scrutiny and reform of all multilateral entities, to make them purpose-built for our times, and representative of this century,” he said.
He further said, “This is why we continue to call for ‘reformed multilateralism’ –one that is relevant for the age in which we live, not when this architecture was erected. Our Alliance must stand for a dynamic multilateralism; for a purposeful reform of existing structures, which must continue to serve the international community even more in this complex and uncertain time.”
The EAM said, “A pandemic has devastated our globalized economic system; apart from taking a toll of over 400,000 lives, it has fundamentally affected the way we live, work, travel and indeed, relate to each other. While it is too early to say that the Coronavirus has altered our way of life forever, it has reduced humanity’s instinctive comfort in the presence of others. And suspicion of human interaction is fuelled, more often than not, by fake news, wrong information and targetted disinformation.”
“So widespread are these phenomena today that we are truly facing a two-pronged attack of a viral pandemic, and misinformation going viral. In other words, this is an era of both a health crisis and an infodemic,” he added.