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Japan highlights importance of strengthening supply chains, creating high-quality infrastructure, and protecting human security at Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum

Hiroshi Kajiyama (Japan’s Minister of Economy, Trade, and Industry) and Eiichiro Washio (Japan's State Minister for Foreign Affairs) participated in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) forum.

Washio highlighted the importance of strengthening supply chains, especially that of the COVID-19 vaccine, to help halt the spread of the virus. He also indicated that high-quality infrastructure is key to economic recovery and that Japan will implement infrastructural projects such as contributing to smart cities. Washio also emphasized the need for international cooperation in promoting human security.

Washio indicated that Japan will increase outreach on the World Trade Organization’s Trade and Health Initiative, advance negotiations with e-commerce companies, and work to formulate proposals to resolve conflict issues.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Reform partnership between Germany and Togo ratified to contribute to economic recovery

After the signing of a declaration of intent to conclude a reform partnership by German Development Minister Gerd Müller and Togolese Foreign Minister Robert Dussey on March 18, 2021, Müller visited Togo on June 14 and ratified the partnership between the two countries together with Dussey and Togolese President Fauré Gnassingbé.

Germany seeks to support Togo with the sustainable development of its industry, expansion of its vocational education system, good governance, investments in renewable energy sources, and strengthening of its health care system. Prerequisites for the reform partnership are Togo’s compliance with democratic principles and human rights, contributions of the Togolese government to the financing of the educational system, political and administrative reforms, and the implementation of an anti-corruption strategy.

Müller praised Togo as a “lighthouse” in the West African region due to its economic reforms and sustainable budgetary policy which improved the economic conditions in Togo. Especially with more than 60% of all jobs in Togo threatened by the COVID-19 crisis, the reform partnership aims to contribute to economic uplift, secure jobs, and good trade relations, which are needed for an economic recovery, said Müller.

Apart from Togo, Germany has concluded further reform partnerships with Tunisia, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, Morocco, and Senegal since 2017.

Press release - Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (in German)

South Korea’s efforts to enhance partner countries’ access to COVID-19 vaccines will include North Korea, says South Korean President

South Korea's President Jae-in Moon commented on June 14, 2021, that South Korea’s efforts to become a global vaccine production hub for COVID-19 and thereby increasing partner countries’ access to COVID-19 vaccines will also include North Korea.

Should North Korea agree, the South Korean government is willing to cooperate on the matter, which is also supported by the US and its humanitarian assistance support to North Korea.

News article – Hankyoreh (in Korean)

Spain calls upon EU to strengthen COVID-19 response in middle-income countries

On June 14, 2021, during an informal meeting of EU development ministries, the Spanish State Secretary for International Cooperation, Ángeles Moreno, underlined the need for providing middle-income countries with technical and financial assistance in order to tackle the COVID-19 crisis.

Ángeles Moreno proposed to create a new fiduciary fund at the International Monetary Fund to ensure that middle-income countries, particularly those in the Latin American and the Caribbean region, can have access to international funding to respond to COVID-19. Moreno also underlined the importance of continuing to promote human development as a key instrument to foster nutrition, health, and education worldwide.

Press release – Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation (in Spanish)

With G7 in mind, UK announces US$577 million to global education, US$161 million for climate emergencies, launches new Centre for Pandemic Preparedness

The UK government made a flurry of development assistance funding and policy announcements last week, taking advantage of the fact that it was hosting the G7 Leaders’ Summit.

On education, the government announced that it will provide £430 million (US$577 million) to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) over the next five years. The UK government has also confirmed that this funding will come on top of the FCDO’s (Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office) £400 million (US$537 million) committed bilaterally for girls’ education between 2021-2022. The British and Kenyan governments will co-host the Global Education Summit in July 2021 and the GPE is hoping to raise £3.7 billion (US$5.0 billion) over the next five years to fund its work on ensuring access to education in 90 countries.

On climate, the UK government has committed to ensuring all its bilateral development assistance does no harm to nature in response to the Dasgupta Review recommendations, to deliver a "nature positive future". The Dasgupta Review on 'The Economics of Biodiversity', which was published in early 2021, acknowledges nature and biodiversity underpin and sustain economic growth and well-being. The UK also announced £120 million (US$161 million) in new funding to enable more rapid responses to vulnerable people in the face of extreme weather and climate-linked disasters, via pre-arranged financing schemes. The package of support was announced in coordination with Germany and the US.

On global health, the UK also announced the launch of a new Centre for Pandemic Preparedness (CPP) as part of its drive for global health security leadership. The CPP will provide genomic surveillance of human and animal infections in collaboration with other partners, that can be shared globally. The UK and US also announced a new global health partnership between the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) and the US National Center for Epidemic Forecasting and Outbreak Analysis, run by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

News article - Devex

Press release - UK government (Climate Emergency Funding)

Press release - UK government (Nature Positive ODA)

Press release - UK government (Partnership)

Canada’s new climate finance pledge is positive, but lack of clarity on addressing overall climate inequalities is concerning, says Oxfam Canada

Oxfam Canada welcomed Canada’s new international climate finance pledge of CA$5.3 billion (US$4.2 billion) over five years, announced at the G7 Summit on June 13, 2021. While Canada has also increased its grant-based financing from 30% to 40%, Oxfam Canada expressed concern about Canada continuing to deliver the majority of its climate finance in the form of loans. 

Loans pose a challenge for low-income countries that are facing spiraling debt due to the COVID-19 crisis, while grants are critical to enabling climate action. Oxfam Canada also highlighted that it is unclear whether Canada will target the increased grants toward adaptation, or how this support can reach at-risk groups in low-income countries to respond and adapt to climate change. 

As Canada is one of the world’s top ten emitters, Oxfam called on the country to ensure its climate finance reaches the most vulnerable populations who disproportionately bear the impacts of the climate crisis. To make real progress in addressing and adapting to the climate emergency, Canada must focus more on setting clear targets on adaptation funding, directing funding to initiatives that address gender inequalities, improving the accessibility of financing for localized efforts, and strengthening communities’ climate resilience.

Director of the Climate Action Network, Catherine Pettengell, commented that the G7 leaders failed to agree on concrete climate finance commitments. COP26, the UN Climate Change Conference, was originally scheduled for November 2020, but due to the pandemic, it will take place in November 2021.

Op-ed - Oxfam Canada

News article - Reuters

At G7 Summit, Canada announces new support to low-income countries for COVID-19 vaccines, climate finance, and education

At the 47th G7 Summit from June 11-13, 2021, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced new financial and resource support to address inequitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, respond to the climate emergency, and support education in low-income countries.  

The resource and financial pledges included:

  • COVID-19 Vaccine Dose Sharing: Canada pledged 100 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to be shared as part of the G7 leaders’ new collective commitment to sharing more than two billion doses to the global vaccine effort. Canada is also donating 13 million doses of the vaccine through COVAX, the global vaccine initiative. The vaccine sharing is in addition to Canada’s previous contributions of CA$2.5 billion (US$2.0 billion) in international assistance to the COVID-19 crisis and CA$1.3 billion (US$1.0 billion) contribution to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). 
  • International Climate Finance: Canada pledged a doubling of Canada’s previous international climate finance to CA$5.3 billion (US$4.2 billion) over five years—up from CA$2.7 billion (US$2.1 billion) over five years in 2015—which includes increased support for adaptation and biodiversity to support low-income countries in cutting pollution and building climate resilience. Canada also increased its grant contribution of climate financing from 30% to 40%. These new commitments are a result of the G7 leaders’ collective commitment to increase their 2030 targets to cut the G7’s collective emissions by around half compared to 2010.
  • Support for Global Partnership for Education: Canada pledged CA$300 million (US$240 million) over five years to the Global Partnership for Education. This funding will specifically support girls’ education and help strengthen education systems in low-income countries. 

Press release - Prime Minister of Canada

Press release - Prime Minister of Canada

France pledges to share 60 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, supports temporary waiver of intellectual property rights

During the G7 Summit hosted by the UK Presidency on June 11-13, 2021, French President Emmanuel Macron made a statement indicating that France:

  • Pledges to double its previous commitments and will share 60 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, 5% of which will go to the African Union, with the aim to vaccinate 40% of the world population by the end of 2021;
  • Supports the temporary waiver of intellectual property rights and the elimination of export bans to increase technology transfers and vaccines production;
  • Calls on pharmaceutical companies to share 10% of manufactured doses, as well as to be transparent about the prices applied to COVAX, the global vaccine initiative; and
  • Supports the reform of the World Health Organization to support an early warning system to prevent future pandemics and invest in research and health system strengthening.

Transcript - French Presidency (in French)

South Korean President Moon commits US$200 million to COVAX Advance Market Commitment

South Korea's President Jae-in Moon announced that South Korea would contribute US$200 million at the G7 Summit on June 12, 2021, to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment (AMC) for 2021-2022 to enhance partner countries’ access to COVID-19 vaccines.

Of the US$200 million, South Korean government will provide US$100 million in grant assistance in 2021 and an additional US$100 million in cash or material form in 2022.

In 2020, South Korea pledged US$10 million to COVAX AMC.

News article – KBS World

G7 leaders agree to provide one billion vaccine doses to low-income countries; critics say this is far from enough

The leaders attending the UK-hosted G7 Summit on June 11-13, 2021, agreed to provide one billion vaccine doses to low-income countries, with the UK committing to provide 100 million.

The communique commits to sharing at least 870 million doses directly over the next year, but it is not clear whether this is related to surplus doses only.

While the move is welcome, it has been widely criticized by civil society groups and UK opposition parties as falling far short of the mark, as the World Health Organization has estimated that 11 billion doses are needed to end the pandemic. Former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown, from the UK Labour Party, stated that the Summit was an "unforgivable moral failure". 

News article - Devex

New German supply chain law obligates companies to meet human rights standards; critics see room for tightening

After months of negotiation, the German parliament adopted a new law on human rights in supply chains on June 11, 2021. It requires companies to identify, address, and report on any human rights or environmental abuses in their direct supply chain. Companies violating the law face penalties, which can account for as much as 2% of companies' annual revenue.

Legal liabilities in court are not included in the new law. From 2023 on, it will apply to companies with more than 3,000 employees, and from 2024 on to companies with more than 1,000 employees.

Human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch criticized the law for being too weak and having “loopholes”. For instance, companies are not obligated to conduct human rights due diligence on their indirect suppliers.

German Development Minister Gerd Müller welcomed the passage of the law and indicated that he sees it as a step in the right direction for more global justice. On the World Day Against Child Labour on June 12, 2021, Müller pointed to the rising numbers of children working and emphasized the relevance of the new law for the fight against child labor.

News article – Deutsche Welle

Press release – Human Rights Watch

News article – Rheinische Post (in German)

Australia commits further 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses at G7 meeting

At the G7 summit held on June 11-13, 2021, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced that Australia will provide at least 20 million COVID-19 vaccine doses as part of the global G7 push to boost access to vaccines in low-income countries.

These doses will be provided by mid-2022 and will be a mix of Pfizer, Moderna, and AstraZeneca vaccines.

This is in addition to 15 million doses being provided by Australia to the Pacific region in conjunction with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Australia's contributions to the COVAX Advance Market Commitment, and a A$100 million (US$78 million) commitment to support vaccinations in the Indo-Pacific region under an agreement with the other 'Quad' members—India, Japan, and the US.

Australia has procurement arrangements for its citizens that will potentially provide 195 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, including the domestic production of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

Press release - Prime Minister of Australia

Japan emphasizes importance of human security during UN's Group of Friends of Human Security meeting

On June 9, 2021, Japan participated in the UN's Group of Friends of Human Security meeting, which aims to reinvigorate discussions on human security at the UN. A total of 63 countries participated in this meeting.

António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, noted the importance of human security during the era of COVID-19. Special Adviser to the Secretary-General on Human Security, Yukio Takasu, provided an overview of UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS) activities.

Press release – Ministry of Foreign Affairs (in Japanese)

Press release – Permanent Mission of Japan to the United Nations

Spain and EU to provide US$6 million to fight COVID-19 in Central American countries

On June 11, 2021, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) decided to disburse, in collaboration with the European Union, €5 million (US$6 million) for Central American partner countries to purchase essential medicines and health supplies to respond to COVID-19 in the region.

This funding will be channeled through the Central American Integration System (Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA)) in 2021. While the EU will provide an overall amount of €4 million (US$5 million), Spain's AECID will disburse up to €500,000 (US$600,000) to this initiative.  

Press release – AECID (in Spanish)

Spain strengthens cooperation with UNICEF, to contribute US$6 million

On June 11, 2021, the Spanish Agency for International Development Cooperation (AECID) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) decided to strengthen strategic cooperation with the approval of a new memorandum of understanding.

This new agreement, which will be mostly focused on tackling the COVID-19 crisis in middle- and low-income partner countries and vulnerable contexts, accounts for a new voluntary contribution of €5 million (US$6 million) to be disbursed by Spain to UNICEF in 2021.

Press release – Cooperación Española (in Spanish)

Biden pledges donation of 500 million COVID-19 doses ahead of G7

Ahead of the G7, US President Joe Biden pledged to donate 500 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine. Pfizer and the US struck a deal to produce the doses, with distribution expected to begin in August 2021. 200 million doses should be provided by the end of this year.

In his formal remarks, Biden emphasized that the doses will be made available with no strings attached. "This is about our responsibility, our humanitarian obligation to save as many lives as we can," he said.

The G7 subsequently reached an agreement to provide a total of 870 million doses over the next year to the countries in greatest need. The distribution will be done through COVAX, the global vaccine initiative.

News article - Politico

News article - Politico

UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office announces new details on governance and management structure

The UK government's Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) has released information about its governance and management structure. The FCDO will have five boards and committees, which will be as follows:

  • FCDO Supervisory Board – This Board will provide strategic guidance and oversight to the department. It will be responsible for reviewing risks and proposals for mitigating them. It will also assess how well the department is delivering on its key performance indicators. The Management Board, as well as the Audit and Risk Assurance Committee, support and will report directly to the Supervisory Board. The Foreign Secretary will chair the Board. The Board is composed of some Director-Generals in the FCDO and non-executive Directors.
  • FCDO Management Board – This Board is focused on the delivery of departmental priorities and management, and it manages risk, performance, and reputation. It is chaired by Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service. It is composed of all the Director-Generals within the FCDO and other key Directors and some non-executive Directors.
  • Audit and Risk Assurance Committee – This committee reviews decisions and systems to ensure internal control. This includes risk management, financing reporting, and safeguarding. To ensure independence, the Committee is composed entirely of non-executive members and has no executive responsibilities. It meets five times a year.
  • FCDO Senior Leadership Board – The Senior Leadership Board focuses on talent and staffing. It reviews recommendations and agrees on appointments for senior staff in the UK and overseas. Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service, chairs the Board.
  • Executive Committee – This committee reports to the Management Board and takes decisions on strategic challenges that require time-bound decisions, and it manages the day-to-day management of the FCDO. Sir Philip Barton, Permanent Under-Secretary and Head of the Diplomatic Service, chairs the Executive Committee.

Press release - UK government 

Sweden appoints current Ambassador to North Korea as new Ambassador to Malaysia for autumn 2021

On June 10, 2021, Sweden appointed Joachim Bergström as the new Ambassador to Malaysia.

Bergström is currently Ambassador to North Korea and has previously served in the Ministry for Foreign Affair’s Middle East and North Africa Unit as well as in the Swedish Embassies in Japan, Saudi Arabia, and the US.

Bergström will assume his new position during the fall of 2021.

Press release – Government Offices of Sweden (in Swedish)

EU pledges US$837 million for next seven years to Global Partnership for Education, increasing annual contribution by 32%

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen announced ahead of the G7 Summit that the EU will contribute €700 million (US$837 million) from 2021-2027 to the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to ensure inclusive and equitable quality education in low- and lower-middle-income countries. 

This pledge represents a 32% annual increase from the previous 2014-2020 EU long-term budget, during which the EU contributed €68 million (US$81 million) per year for a total of €475 million (US$568 million). 

GPE works in nearly 100 countries and is currently focused on minimizing the impact of the pandemic on education for children, particularly for girls who have been disproportionately disadvantaged in their access to remote learning opportunities.

Press release - European Commission

Transcript - European Commission

Dutch government supports aim to provide COVID-19 vaccines to at least 20% of most vulnerable in crisis areas by end of year

On June 10, 2021, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sigrid Kaag, sent the Dutch parliament a letter regarding the approach to COVID-19 in humanitarian crises.

The aim is to provide COVID-19 vaccines to at least 20% of the most vulnerable people—such as primary health care workers, the elderly, and people with underlying medical conditions—in crisis areas by the end of 2021. The doses delivered for humanitarian context are in addition to regular deliveries to low- and lower-middle-income countries.

The Netherlands is committed to this goal through its contributions to the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A), a global vaccine initiative.

Press release – Parliament of the Netherlands (in Dutch)