In this episode we’re taking a closer look at COVAX, the program touted as the solution to the global vaccine distribution problem. Our guest on the podcast argues that COVAX is actually a mechanism through which corporate interests have hijacked UN processes and used them to safeguard their profits, with little regard to the attendant social costs.
From a human rights perspective, the global vaccine distribution problem would for example aim to get the COVID vaccine to communities and peoples in the Global South quickly, safely, at low or no cost without political-, class- or gender-discrimination. It would lead toward a solution that combines a WTO waiver of intellectual property rights for COVID-related products and processes, maybe a General Assembly declaration that health is a global public good, a multilateral global humanitarian relief fund underwritten by rich country governments, and an international distribution system directed by the World Health Assembly.
But that is not the vision that has prevailed.
Instead, what we have is COVAX, a multistakeholder group that represents the vision and goals of a World Economic Forum (WEF) or a Gates Foundation perspective. Their aim is to get the COVID vaccine to communities and peoples in the Global South without disrupting the global pharmaceutical market, with a mechanism that circumvents long standing multilateral humanitarian relief systems while steering the vaccines to preferred allies in the Global South.
Harris Gleckman is a sociologist who has spent much of his career at the United Nations and has a detailed understanding of corporate global governance across multiple issues. His work at the UN and his ongoing research at the university of Boston in Massachusetts and also with the Brussels based Foundation for Global Governance and Sustainability gives him deep insight into how the UN might be restructured to better handle bigger crises in the health, environment and social areas.
Read Harris Gleckman's report here.
For more about the corporate capture of global governance and what we can do about it, see this resource.