Delegation of the European Union to the
UN and other international organisations in Geneva

WHO - 5h Special Session of the Executive Board - EU Statement: Item 3. Update on implementation of resolution WHA73.1 (2020) on the COVID-19 response

Geneva, 05/10/2020 - 14:09, UNIQUE ID: 201005_1
Statements on behalf of the EU

Mr Chair,

Director General,


Ladies and Gentlemen,

I speak on behalf the EU and its Member States.

The Candidate Countries the Republic of North Macedonia[1], Montenegro[1]  and Albania[1], the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina as well as Ukraine and the Republic of Moldova align themselves with this statement.


We thank the Chair and the Director General for having convened this Special Session of the Executive Board. We would also like to thank the Member States for their active participation in the negotiations on resolution WHA73.1 and the cosponsors of the resolution. We are looking forward to continued updates on its implementation.

We believe that the Board needs to fulfil its constitutional role in the midst of this crisis to review progress in the implementation of the resolution and to provide its guidance and oversight of the work of the Secretariat.

We welcome the DG’s interim report and commend WHO for coordinating the UN health response, helping countries in managing the pandemic, creating the Supply Chain System and fostering global solidarity. We also welcome progress made on investigating the origin of the virus in collaboration with FAO and OIE, including by launching multisectoral and scientific studies. It is key that the planned expert mission be deployed soon.


The EU and its Member States as “Team Europe” have acted upon request for action from member states

By helping establish and acting as co-hosting the ACT Accelerator and by joining the “COVAX Facility”, to promote equitable and affordable access to COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics, as well as vaccines, diagnostics and therapeutics, in line with the role of extensive immunization against COVID-19 as a global public good.

To ensure these tools can be properly deployed in countries the EU advocated for the inclusion of a “Health System Strengthening Connector”

We have been and will be demonstrating global solidarity by scaling up funding to help contain the virus in the most fragile and vulnerable contexts including in humanitarian settings.

Evaluation being an integral part of WHA73.1, we are looking forward to hearing from the Co-Chairs of the IPPR as well as the Chairs of the IHR Review Committee and the IOAC.

We attach great importance to the outcome of these evaluations and hence expect final reports, which are of the highest quality possible, fully independent and based on scientific evidence.


As a strong supporter of multilateralism, the EU’s key strategic goal is to achieve the GPW and the 2030 agenda objectives.

While today we are focusing on the global response to COVID-19 we must not forget to deliver on the UHC and healthier population pillars.  

For when the next crisis strikes, we all need to be better prepared and WHO must be enabled to fulfil its mandated role in global health security.

Therefore, WHO should be further strengthened through political support, technical cooperation and sustainable financing as the common responsibility of all members of this organization

 Accountability and compliance with the IHR as well as tackling structural challenges are key elements in this.


On the question of necessary reforms in global pandemic preparedness, the EU stands ready to participate constructively in the overall discussion.

The WHO is a member-state driven organization. Reforms will only be successful if they do not merely focus on how the Secretariat operates. Both the Secretariat and Member States have parts to play.

There are many proposals and contributions already on the table, including from member states from all regions and the WHO secretariat. Neither should we forget the preparedness resolution adopted by the Board in February and tabled for adoption by the WHA in November.


Therefore following this Special Session of the Executive Board the EU would be honoured to launch an inclusive process to discuss how best to bring these proposals together in close consultation with the evaluation and review mechanisms.

The aim would be, on the way towards the 148 session of the Executive Board to start building consensus among WHO member states on concrete steps to strengthen WHO’s role in global health emergency preparedness and response, especially those elements that can be achieved in the short term.


We understand that we are all still in the midst of a crisis. Yet, if we have learnt one thing from the past, it is that waiting for the crisis to pass often leads the world to shift from “panic” to “neglect”, resulting in reform proposals being left on paper and in drawers, never seeing the light of day. We cannot allow this to happen this time.

Thank you very much.


[1] The Republic of North Macedonia, Montenegro and Albania continue to be part of the Stabilisation and Association Process.


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