HRC 52 SRI Statement to the Interactive Dialogue on Access to COVID-19 Vaccines

Published on March 17, 2023



Thank you President,

Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative.  

Big pharma and vaccine hoarding governments are responsible for 1.3 million avoidable deaths in the first year of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.  That is 1 death every 24 seconds. As a test of international cooperation and human rights, this is nothing short of abject failure.  

Vaccine inequity fueled by greed and nationalist selfishness has taken the world backwards and exacerbated existing economic and social inequalities within and among countries.  It also exposed the hypocrisy of high income countries in terms of their commitment to global solidarity and contributed to increased polarisation within multilateral fora.   

Moreover, the supposed “market based” system for intellectual property rights of vaccine development is only possible through massive investments of public money thereby socialising risk and privatising profit.  While the focus of today’s dialogue is on COVID-19,  this is true for countless other preventable and treatable infections and diseases.  

As the foremost body on human rights, the Council is tasked with addressing the root causes of human rights violations.  If COVID-19 has taught us anything, it must be that the blind worship of capitalism is a root cause of preventable death and suffering and must be addressed if the Council is to fulfil its’ mandate.  

We demand accountability and reparations for preventable deaths resulting from vaccine inequity and the unjust intellectual property regime.  As a guarantee of non-repetition, we need a rights-based, public health approach to vaccines, therapeutics and tech transfer as part of a larger overhaul of the global IP regime and health systems that prioritises people over profit. States must act with urgency to scale up investment in public health and social protection systems that will improve the material conditions of all peoples’ lives.  We cannot and will not wait any longer.  

Thank you.