Foreign ministers and senior diplomats from the 25 member countries of the “Alliance for Multilateralism” had a video conference on Thursday to discuss ways to strengthen “main international organizations” in efforts to contain the virus, which has infected nearly two million people and has killed more than 1,30,000 to date worldwide. “What we need now is more international coordination, no less,” said German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas after the videoconference, hosted by him and his French counterpart Jean-Yves Le Drian.
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Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar did not participate in the Alliance for Multilateralism videoconference, but Chief Diplomat Vikas Swarup, Secretary (West), Department of External Affairs (MEA), represented India .
“A priority is to strengthen the main international organizations so that the crisis can be brought under control,” Maas said in a message posted on the official website of the German Federal Foreign Office. “The Alliance for Multilateralism therefore supports the call by the United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, for a global ceasefire, as well as the work of the World Health Organization (WHO ) as a key coordinator of pandemic control efforts. “
“We need to strengthen international organizations – in particular @UN and @WHO. Weakening the @WHO would be like throwing the pilot out of the plane during a flight. We agreed to that at the Alliance for Multilateralism meeting, “Mass said on Twitter.
Germany and France led “Alliance of Multilateralism” to support WHO just after US President Donald Trump suspended funding for the agency accusing it of “serious mismanagement and concealment of the spread” COVID-19 virus from China.
The COVID-19 virus was previously unknown before the epidemic began in Wuhan, China in December 2019.
Trump criticized the WHO for not recommending travel restrictions from China to the United States and other countries for several days after the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic in the communist country.
India has said it will not support any action to put WHO under surveillance at a time when the international organization should instead be allowed to do its job of coordinating the global effort to contain the pandemic. A source in New Delhi said that the “question” on the role of WHO could be revisited once the world has resolved the crisis.
Germany and France, however, were more outspoken in disapproving of the US’s decision to end funding for WHO.
“Blaming others will not help. The virus knows no borders, ”Maas tweeted on Wednesday. “One of the best investments is to strengthen the UN, especially the underfunded WHO, for the development and distribution of tests and vaccines.”
France has also expressed regret over the US decision against the WHO.
The Alliance for Multilateralism video conference on Thursday saw more countries rallying to support WHO – tacitly disapproving of the US campaign against the organization.
“(The) UN and (WHO) need our strong support,” Pekka Havisto, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland tweeted after the virtual meeting.
New Delhi has not released the statement by Swarup, MEA secretary (West), presented during the Alliance for Multilateralism videoconference. However, he tweeted that “improvements in global health governance and multilateral institutions to fight the pandemic” were discussed during the virtual meeting.
The French and German foreign ministers launched the Alliance for Multilateralism on April 2, 2019. It is an informal coalition of countries to protect multilateralism in an era of growing nationalism and protectionism around the world. The launch of the coalition itself was a response to the policies of US President “America First” and his decisions to reduce funding from the United States government for multilateral organizations like the United Nations, as well as to withdraw from bodies like the United Nations Human Rights Council and United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization and pacts like the Paris Climate Agreement.