UK: Matt Hancock’s appointment as UN special envoy for Covid-19 recovery in Africa requires clear commitment to human rights and just recovery

Responding to Matt Hancock MP’s appointment as UN special representative on financial innovation and climate change for the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, with a focus on helping Africa’s economy recover from Covid-19, Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director, said:

This appointment must result in Matt Hancock demonstrating meaningful commitment to the human rights principles that are so crucial for effective recovery from Covid-19 in Africa, including on climate change, access to Covid-19 vaccines, response to big pharma and the TRIPS waiver proposal

Netsanet Belay, Research and Advocacy Director

“This appointment must result in Matt Hancock demonstrating meaningful commitment to the human rights principles that are so crucial for effective recovery from Covid-19 in Africa, including on climate change, access to Covid-19 vaccines, response to big pharma and the TRIPS waiver proposal.

“It’s disappointing that in his former role as UK health minister, Matt Hancock opposed calls to lift intellectual property rights that would allow Covid-19 vaccines to be produced worldwide and ensure access to life-saving vaccines for billions of people.

“In the twelve months since the TRIPS waiver was first proposed, and which the UK has consistently blocked, 3.8 million people have died from Covid-19. Timely access to vaccines, tests and treatments is essential for Africa’s recovery from the pandemic, but scandalously only 7.4% of people in Africa have received at least one vaccine dose to date.

In this role the former Minister will not be able to ignore the impact a lack of access to vaccines is having for people across Africa and we must now see him advocating strongly for UK support for a TRIPS waiver

Netsanet Belay

“In this role the former Minister will not be able to ignore the impact a lack of access to vaccines is having for people across Africa and we must now see him advocating strongly for UK support for a TRIPS waiver.”

“We also urgently need to see human rights compliant messaging from the new Envoy on climate change. Just last week, the UN Human Rights Council recognized the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment and ahead of the UK hosted COP26 next month, we need  decisive action from all governments.

“The new Envoy must make it clear he supports the bold and decisive actions being called for by the UN in order to ensure a clear, health and sustainable environment for all.”

Background

Matt Hancock’s UNECA appointment comes in the same week as the publication of a parliamentary committee report on lessons learned from the UK’s response to Covid-19. While praising the success of the UK’s vaccine programme, the report ranks the early response to the pandemic including decisions on lockdowns and social distancing as “one of the most important public health failures the United Kingdom has ever experienced.”

For more information, please see:

COVID-19: States must take immediate action and deliver surplus vaccines now, not next year, 22 September 2021, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/09/covid-19-states-must-take-immediate-action-and-deliver-surplus-vaccines-now-not-next-year/

UN: Recognition of the right to a healthy environment is a milestone in the battle against the climate crisis, 8 October 2021, https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/10/un-recognition-of-the-right-to-a-healthy-environment-is-a-milestone-in-the-battle-against-the-climate-crisis/

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Source / Read More: https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2021/10/uk-matt-hancocks-appointment-as-un-special-envoy-for-covid-19-recovery-in-africa-requires-clear-commitment-to-human-rights-and-just-recovery/

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