Monday, May 27, 2024

UN rejects amendment to limit technology transfer to “voluntary and mutually agreed terms” in resolution on global health – Knowledge Ecology International

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Against the backdrop of the tortuous negotiations among WHO member states on technology transfer and know-how at the last mile of the pandemic treaty talks, on Wednesday, 1 May 2024, Switzerland offered a surprise amendment in a different forum, thousands of miles away, at the UN General Assembly in New York.

The New York vote concerned draft resolution A/78/L.62, entitled, “Global health and foreign policy: addressing global health challenges in the foreign policy space” that had been originally tabled on April 19, 2024, by Brazil, France, Indonesia, Norway, Senegal, South Africa, and Thailand.

Switzerland offered an amendment that would insert “on voluntary and mutually agreed terms” after “transfer of technology and know-how” in the twenty-ninth preambular paragraph.


The proposed amendment to paragraph 29 reads as follows:

PP29: Noting the discussions on innovative options to enhance the global effort towards the production and equitable distribution of medicines and other health technologies through local and regional production, welcoming the establishment of technology transfer hubs for mRNA vaccines to develop and strengthen local and regional production chains in developing countries, and emphasizing the need to enhance the manufacturing and research capacity of countries through innovation and transfer of technology and know-how [add: on voluntary and mutually agreed terms] with the support of developed countries and advance industries;

Member States then voted, and the amendment was rejected, with 103 UN members voting against the amendment, 19 voting in favor, and three abstentions.

On 2 May 2024, during a plenary meeting, UN Member States then voted to approve the final version of resolution A/78/L.62. The outcome of this vote reflected the diverging stances of member states, with 103 voting in favor, 48 voting against, and one abstention (India), nearly the mirror opposite of the vote on the amendment.


KEI compiled the voting records of countries on the final resolution along with each country population and income, which is accessible here.

Member States with higher incomes tended to oppose the final resolution, with a few exceptions such as Norway, Qatar, Singapore, and Kuwait, who voted in favor of the resolution.

Conversely, Member States with some of the lowest reported per-capita-incomes were more inclined to vote in favor of resolution A/78/L.62. Among the 95 countries voting with the lowest per-capita incomes, only seven voted against the resolution. Notably, most of the lower-income Member States that opposed the resolution were either European candidate countries or countries aspiring to join the EU. The sole exception to this trend was Mozambique, which also voted against the resolution.

Overall, the voting patterns on resolution A/78/L.62 closely aligned with the economic status of the countries, with those having higher incomes generally opposing the resolution, while lower-income countries were more likely to support it. According to our calculation, when using 2021 per-capita incomes, the countries who voted in favor of the resolution had a per-capita income of $6,691, whereas the countries who voted against had a per-capita income of $47,012.

The designation “Neither yes nor no” encompasses countries that either abstained from voting or did not cast a vote, including India’s abstention. The population of this category is substantial, and our analysis reveals that it comprises countries with the lowest per-capita income overall.


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