Scott Morrison will use a speech to the United Nations general assembly in New York to urge countries to share a Covid-19 vaccine as soon as a successful candidate emerges, characterising such collaboration as a “global and moral responsibility”.
Morrison will use his contribution to the general assembly 75th anniversary general debate, scheduled for Saturday morning Australian time, to revive concerns that some countries might see “short-term advantage or even profit” in hoarding the vaccine rather than sharing it with the world.
But Morrison will tell the assembly humanity will “have a very long memory and be a very, very severe judge” of any country that behaves in that way. “Australia’s pledge is clear: if we find the vaccine we will share it.”
“That’s the pledge we all must make,” the prime minister will say via video link.
Morrison will tell the assembly that in times of crisis there is an opportunity “for our shared humanity to overwhelm the differences that usually beset us and to focus once again on pursuing our common hope”.
Having declared this time last year that sovereign nations needed to eschew an “unaccountable internationalist bureaucracy” and the world needed to avoid “negative globalism”, Morrison will tell the UN on Saturday that multilateral institutions need to continue “to deliver for us and all nations”.
He will say the UN is its members, “not its committees, processes, institutions or officials”, and Australia is committed to ensuring multilateral institutions are “fit for purpose, that they’re effective, that they’re open and transparent and, most importantly, that they are accountable to the sovereign states that form them”.
Morrison will argue the UN derives its authority from the free participation, contributions, cooperation and collaboration of the sovereign states that comprise its membership, collaborating “in a common purpose, to pursue our common hope”.
“We know that sovereignty doesn’t mean turning inwards though,” Morrison will say.
In an implicit criticism of China, Morrison will say Australia respects international law and the peaceful resolution of disputes through dialogue, including “ensuring that competing territorial and maritime claims are based on, and determined in line with, international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea”. That’s a reference to the increasing militarisation of the South China Sea.
Against the backdrop of continuing trade tensions with China, Morrison will also stress that Australia “values the rules and institutions that enable international trade”.
“We value rules that protect sovereignty, peace and security, and curb the excessive use of power,” he will say.
As well as highlighting the “dangers of disinformation” Morrison will also insist that it is important to identify the zoonotic source of the Covid-19 virus and how it was transmitted to humans. “This virus has inflicted a calamity on our world and its peoples”.
“We must do all we can to understand what happened for no other purpose than to prevent it from happening again.”
The Morrison government infuriated Beijing by publicly calling for an independent global investigation into the origins and early handling of Covid-19.