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‘Humanity a severe judge’: Morrison to use UN speech to urge nations to share vaccine

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Mr Morrison will tell the UN that “whoever finds the vaccine must share it”.

“This is a global responsibility, and it’s a moral responsibility for a vaccine to be shared far and wide,” Mr Morrison will say, according to a draft of the speech.

“Some might see short-term advantage, or even profit. But I assure you to anyone who may think along those lines, humanity will have a very long memory and be a very, very severe judge.

“Australia’s pledge is clear: if we find the vaccine we will share it. That’s the pledge we all must make.”

Australia has handed over more than $120 million to join the global vaccines facility known as COVAX, a World Health Organisation initiative, which allows all countries that have signed up to gain access to some of the world’s leading vaccine candidates.

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In his speech to the UN marking the global body’s 75th anniversary, Mr Morrison will liken the challenges faced in the year it was founded – 1945 – with the global pandemic today.

“It was a year when humanity found hope amidst despair. This year is one of the hardest since then,” Mr Morrison will say.

“So let our resolve now also be undiminished as it was at the beginning of the United Nations as we commit again, together, to realising the common hope that binds us all together.”

Mr Morrison will say Australia’s focus has been “to deny the virus the destruction it seeks to visit upon us, upon our lives, our livelihoods”.

In a continuing shift away from a speech last year in which he decried “negative globalism”, Mr Morrison will talk up the benefits of countries engaging in global bodies such as the UN, saying “sovereignty doesn’t mean turning inwards”.

He will say competing territorial and maritime claims should be based on international law, including the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. Australia this year shifted its position on the South China Sea, declaring “there is no legal basis” to China’s territorial and maritime claims in the disputed waterway.

Mr Morrison will say the independent inquiry into the coronavirus, which Australia pushed for with the European Union, was a reminder of the importance of global cooperation.

As the world tries to control the spread of COVID-19, Mr Morrison will say it has also been reminded of the danger of disinformation.

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The European Commission in June issued a report finding foreign actors and countries, led by Russia and China, had carried out targeted disinformation campaigns aimed at undermining democratic debate and stoking confusion about the pandemic.

Australia recently co-authored a statement through the UN urging countries to act against disinformation.

“Disinformation costs lives, and creates a climate of fear and division. It goes against Australia’s values and beliefs as a free, open society,” Mr Morrison will say.

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