Council of Europe passes resolutions on ethical vaccine policy and ethnic profiling

  • post Type / Advocacy News
  • Date / 29 January 2021

The Winter session of the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) took place in a “hybrid” manner this week, with developments on vaccine distribution, ethnic profiling, and Russia.

Resolutions approved on ethical vaccine distribution and ethnic profiling in Europe

On Wednesday, the Assembly debated and approved a resolution calling for COVID-19 vaccines to be made a “global public good” – the arguments for which were covered in a recent Humanists International Advocacy blog . The report on which the resolution was founded contained recommendations for addressing the equitable worldwide deployment of COVID-19 vaccines and the dual problems of “vaccine nationalism” and “vaccine hesitancy.”

Rapporteur De Temmerman presents her report

The Director-General of the World Health Organization, who took part in the debate, called for countries to protect the COVAX facility and for the WHO to be provided with vaccine data at the same time as other regulators.

On the subject of vaccine hesitancy, Rapporteur Jennifer De Temmerman urged States not to stigmatize “doubters”, but instead emphasized the importance of trust and transparency as a means of countering misinformation.

A resolution on combating ethnic profiling in Europe was also debated and approved. Making the point that the police in Europe are often not regarded as defenders of human rights, but as the very forces perpetuating racial discrimination, it called for clear steps to be taken to address systemic racism.

Credentials of Russian delegation were under challenge

PACE voted in favour of extending the Russian delegation’s rights in the organization, after their credentials were challenged in the opening session. In approving the delegation, the Assembly nonetheless expressed its concerns over issues such as the Russian crackdown on civil society and laws targeting LGBTI people.

Addresses from the PACE President and European Commissioner for Justice

During the opening session, Rik Daems was re-elected as president of the PACE. Presenting his priorities for 2021, Daems called for “a principled approach to the environment as a human right” and stated that the Assembly would continue to promote the Council of Europe Istanbul Convention as an essential treaty to end violence against women and girls.

European Commissioner for Justice Didier Reynders also gave an address. His speech raised concerns over the erosion of the rule of law in several member States.

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