The United Nations Security Council has unanimously adopted a resolution demanding an immediate ceasefire in conflict zones around the world so that COVID-19 vaccines can be distributed. Resolution 2565 demands that all parties to conflicts have to comply with international humanitarian law and allow for the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines to reach areas of armed conflict unhindered, as well as zones that were recently theatre of wars and where there are other complex humanitarian emergencies taking place.
The resolution also recognizes the crucial need for an extensive immunization against SARS-CoV-2, the virus responsible for COVID-19. Viruses constantly mutate as they spread. If governments continue to allow the virus to spread through a population, it is possible a variant could emerge that can’t be stopped with the current vaccines or be easily treated in hospitals.
The resolution, which was put forward by the UK and co-sponsored by 112 countries, also calls for developing international partnerships with a focus on scaling up the currents effort to make and distribute the vaccines. This is vital, as just last month the World Health Organization, which runs the COVAX program working for global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, reported that 75 percent of the current vaccine supply has been secured and administered by just 10 countries, while 130 countries – home to 2.5 billion people – had not received a single dose.
"We’re proud to lead in securing the swift and unanimous agreement of today’s UN Security Council ceasefires resolution, which will help get vaccines to people living in conflict zones," UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab said in a statement after the resolution was agreed on February 26.
"The resolution also builds support for COVAX, through which the UK is providing over a billion vaccine doses for the most vulnerable people around the world."
The World Trade Organization (WTO) is currently discussing a waiver on its Intellectual Property Rights to allow developing countries to start producing the vaccines themselves, ramping up global production, and getting ahead of the pandemic. However, several high-income countries, including the UK and the US, the European Union, and several companies have rejected this idea, first proposed by South Africa and India. The WTO is yet to make a decision but 400 American organizations have called on President Biden to endorse the waiver. Similarly, 115 members of the European Parliament have urged the European Union to do the same.
The UN security council is made of 15 members. Five of these are permanent: China, France, Russia, the UK, and the US. The remaining 10 are elected for a two-year term starting on January 1. Each year, five of these are replaced. The current non-permanent members for 2021 are Estonia, India, Ireland, Kenya, Mexico, Niger, Norway, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Tunisia, and Vietnam.
For more information about COVID-19, check out the IFLScience COVID-19 hub where you can follow the current state of the pandemic, the progress of vaccine development, and further insights into the disease.