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Wed, 23 Mar



International shared responsibility and solidarity: COVID-19 as a beneficial epidemic?

Session organizers: Dr. Remco van de Pas, Prof. Bart Criel. Moderator: Prof. Karin Verelst.

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Tijd en Locatie

23 Mar 2022, 10:45 – 11:45

KVS, Arduinkaai 7, 1000 Brussel, België

Info & agenda

The pandemic has further brought to light not only the poignant interconnectedness (trade, mobility and finance) of the ‘global’ economy, but also the deep systemic failures this globalised economical system faces. Indeed, it has exacerbated the profound pre-existing socio-economic inequities and structural power imbalances at local, national, as well as global level. It hugely impacted the European Union, but also Lower- and Middle Income Countries. Vaccine inequity is the most glaring example at hand. The WHO’s “equitable access” program COVAX takes current inequities as starting point and attempts to mitigate them - but is miserably failing. Market interests of global quasi-monopolists stand in the way of genuine international solidarity and dictate the EU’s refusal to temporarily lift the patents on the vaccines produced (and solely recognised) in High-Income Countries.

In this context, ongoing attempts by the WHO and the EU to establish a worldwide pandemic treaty in which a number of disturbing assumptions are taken for granted, look premature to say the least. They indeed risk to reinforce technocratic and neocolonial attitudes under the guise of free trade, rule of law and biosecurity. Public health is not merely a technical problem nor a commercial asset. It is (to be) the collective expression of the responsibility of governments and public institutions warrant each and every human being’s right to health and access to public health care whenever need arises. Democratically legitimised local and national levels of decision-making play a crucial role in policies regarding public health, even if global mechanisms of solidarity need to be understood and strengthened. Finding a proper balance between those inextricably related aspects should therefore be the subject of a broad societal and political debate and cannot be left to a small and closed coterie of experts and lobbyists.


Criel B, van de Put W, Decoster K.  Is er nog ruimte voor internationale solidariteit? Samenleving & Politiek, Jaargang 26, 2019, nr. 10 (december), pagina 49 tot 53.

Dentico N, Van de Pas R, Patnaik P. The politics of a WHO pandemic treaty in a disenchanted world. Geneva Global Health Hub. Jan. 2022


  • Karin Verelst (VUB) – Introduction and scope of session.
  • Remco van de Pas (ITG) – "An International pandemic treaty requires a transnational  democratic polity."
  • Raffaella Ravinetto (ITG) – "Why we need a patent-free Covid-19 vaccine that is available to all."
  • Karin Verelst  (VUB) – Moderated discussion with the audience based on statement(s).


Dr. Remco van de Pas, ITG.

Dr. Raffaella Ravinetto, ITG.

Prof. Karin Verelst, VUB.


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