US’ Defunding of WHO ‘Strategic Mistake’, Iran Tells NAM Summit

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has delivered a speech at a summit of the heads of state of the Non-Aligned Movement's (NAM) contact group, which was held on Monday evening through video-conference.

The meeting started with a speech by President Ilham Aliyev of Azerbaijan Republic as the President of the 18th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.

Given that the Non-Aligned Movement includes 120 countries, the Summit was held in the format of a Contact Group with the participation of countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and Latin America, based on the principle of geographical representation.

Representatives from 40 countries attended the online meeting, including 19 presidents, a vice president, six prime ministers, a deputy prime minister, eight foreign ministers and an interior minister.

Tijjani Muhammad-Bande, the President of the 74th General Assembly of the United Nations, António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and the Director-General of the World Health Organisation also delivered speeches and messages to the NAM leaders.

Among the main speakers of the summit was President Rouhani of Iran, who presented a report on Iran’s performance in containing and fighting against the novel coronavirus.

In his speech, he also lashed out at the US administration for defunding the World Health Organisation amid the global fight against the COVID-19, and described it as a strategic mistake.

What follows is the full text of President Rouhani’s speech:

In the name of God


Ladies and gentlemen,

At the beginning of my speech, I would like to thank Mr Ilham Aliyev, honourable President of Azerbaijan, for arranging this summit and for helping my country in the fight against COVID-19. I would also like to thank all member states of the Non-Aligned Movement and other countries that have helped each other in the global fight against the international threat of COVID-19.

Global experience in combatting COVID-19 has shown how a contagious disease can threaten all countries in the world, regardless of border, nationality or race, and endanger the health of every single person in the world. This is a serious warning to all countries that human beings are sufficiently exposed to major threats such as environmental degradation, global warming and natural threats such as coronavirus, and it is time that pressure and threat, terrorism-nurturing, pressure on nations in the form of economic terrorism and military threats, give way to bilateral, multilateral and international cooperation to combat real and common threats. This experience has shown that the vulnerability of global powers that have filled their arsenals with weapons of mass destruction is no less than other countries to the threat of a contagious disease such as COVID-19 if not more.

With such a view from the very first days of the outbreak of the virus in the world, the Islamic Republic of Iran, while cooperating with the World Health Organisation and in accordance with the International Health Regulations (IHR), prepared a targeted national strategic plan to fight this virus and cooperate with other countries. This strategic plan includes the following:

1- Responding to the crisis with the participation of all responsible institutions, social participation, inter-sectoral cooperation and public health approach;

2- National fight against COVID-19 with methods of registering cases through telephone and internet surveys, employing 170,000 employees in the health department, appointing one thousand comprehensive and selected health centres, creating a system for self-screening and launching quarantine units to identify COVID-19 cases and offering complementary treatment;

3- Creating a network for diagnosing and managing the disease, including laboratory tests and diagnostic algorithms;

4- Implementing social distancing policies;

5- Managing health and biomedical research;

6- Providing support packages for low-income and less advantaged groups affected by the restrictions;

As a result of these measures, the Islamic Republic of Iran has succeeded in effectively preventing the spread of the virus in many cities and regions throughout the country, and the performance of the Islamic Republic of Iran in combatting and controlling the virus has been assessed in cases beyond international standards. Of course, the targeted measures of the Islamic Republic of Iran to deal with the spread of this virus continues in the country and the region.

Ladies and gentlemen;

At a time when coronavirus has become a common threat to global security and public health, and the World Health Organisation is at the forefront of the global fight against coronavirus, weakening the World Health Organisation means weakening the global fight against coronavirus, and is an untimely and unjustifiable move. The US government’s hasty and irresponsible move to deprive the World Health Organisation of the funds it needs should be seen as another strategic mistake by the government that poses challenges to the common global fight with coronavirus. Of course, nothing more can be expected from the US government, which has unilaterally withdrawn from valid international agreements and repeatedly violated international law.

For years, the United States has imposed unilateral and illegal sanctions, not only depriving the Iranian people of access to their rights, but also threatening multilateralism and international cooperation. While all countries in the world are planning and cooperating to counter this threat and supply the items they need from other countries, Iran is also looking to supply its own medical requirements and equipment according to its medical needs, but unfortunately, due to US’ illegal and unilateral sanctions, companies producing these items are not able to offer their products to Iran when needed. Due to this anti-human rights action by the United States, the provision of medical supplies for Iran has naturally been longer and sometimes impossible, and Iran’s targeted programme to combat the spread of the virus has become difficult and challenging.

From here, I would like to thank all the doctors, nurses and medical staff in the Islamic Republic of Iran and all the countries that are at the forefront of the fight against this virus. I must emphasise that the Islamic Republic of Iran declares its readiness to cooperate with all countries in the world in order to develop the vaccine and a treatment for this virus, and welcomes any request for cooperation.

In the end, I once again thank my dear friend Mr Ilham Aliyev, honourable President of Azerbaijan, as well as other high-ranking officials and delegations for participating in this meeting, and invite all countries to cooperate and help each other in the fight against this virus, wish you health and hope to see the virus eradicated as soon as possible.

Peace be upon you and God’s mercy and blessings 


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