Five world leaders: No time for geopolitical turf battles

The writer is president of Germany. King Abdullah II of Jordan and Presidents Halimah Yacob of Singapore, Sahle-Work Zewde of Ethiopia and Lenín Moreno Garcés of Ecuador co-wrote this article

Our nations, societies and economies are slowing, almost stalled in the face of a global and external threat that transcends borders, ethnicities and beliefs. Public life has come to a virtual standstill. But these unprecedented measures of social distancing will be difficult to maintain over a long period.

Nations are turning inward as they try to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, closing borders and imposing drastic executive measures in a retreat that risks leaving each country to fend for itself. However, we can contain and counter Covid-19 more effectively by removing barriers that hinder knowledge exchange and cooperation.

Such crises tend to bring out both the best and the worst of people. It is our responsibility as leaders to encourage the former and contain the latter. Our countries are at various stages of the crisis, but we all see and admire the strong spirit of solidarity and the many people who passionately try to save lives or maintain essential services in service. They give us hope and inspire us so that our societies can not only get through this crisis, but also become stronger and more connected.

Likewise, the most convincing way to approach the global dimension of this crisis is to strengthen cooperation and solidarity. There is a central lesson to be learned from human experience: almost all the scourges that have wreaked havoc on humanity – tuberculosis, smallpox, Ebola, AIDS – have been overcome by modern medicine providing therapies and vaccines. Sharing knowledge and accelerating research by a global network of scientists will also provide the ultimate answer to our current situation.

It is a global crisis. Delay in action means death. We are all facing the same enemy and we have everything to gain from harnessing all the strength of humanity to fight it. There can be no victory over the virus in one or in some countries. We all have something to contribute, regardless of the size of our economies or our populations. A global solution is in everyone’s interest.

We welcome the commitment of the G20 leaders to make everything that’s necessary to deal with the crisis. We fully support the global humanitarian appeal. But no single global entity covers the medical, economic and political elements necessary to produce a vaccine for all those who need it. We firmly believe that we must form a truly global alliance to mobilize human ingenuity and solidarity.

Building on the work of the World Health Organization, we call on the World Bank Group, the IMF, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, international vaccine alliances, foundations philanthropic, scientific and pharmaceutical companies from the private sector join forces.

This new global alliance should commit to four key objectives. First, we must accelerate research and development of treatments and vaccines through open and transparent science and increased funding. Second, we need to ensure rapid and fair and equitable production, supply and distribution of test kits and essential medical equipment for all. Third, quickly increase production and ensure the fair and equitable distribution of future therapies and vaccines around the world, including vulnerable populations such as refugees. Fourth, we must express the immense benefits of a coordinated and cooperative global response to the crisis, emphasizing the provision of eventual treatment and a vaccine as an exemplary “global public good”.

We recognize that such a multi-stakeholder alliance will not be easy to build or manage. But we think it is worth it. He would exploit the enormous reservoir of hopes and better instincts. Now is not the time for geopolitical turf battles.

We realize that our societies will not be the same after the crisis and that the world we live in will also be different. But we challenge all those who claim to know already today that it will be a poorer and colder world, with peoples and nations that will distance themselves. Our decisions in the weeks and months ahead will determine what the world will look like tomorrow.

The internationalization of the development, manufacture and distribution of treatments and vaccines will not only provide the antidote to the virus itself, but also to the deepening of the political divides that have taken place since its appearance. This pandemic will not spare any country, regardless of the progress of its economy, its capabilities or its technology. Before this virus, we are all equal and must work together to defeat it. We are convinced that if we pool our knowledge and our efforts, we can and will be saved by human ingenuity. Let us do this in a spirit of solidarity, at the service of all, poor or rich, old or young, women or men. It will save lives. This will bring out the best in all of us. And it will make the world of tomorrow a better place.

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