National Statement at the 2021 OSCE Mediterranean Conference
As prepared for delivery by Chargé d’Affaires Courtney Austrian
for the High Level Political Segment of the Mediterranean Partners Conference,
Vienna and ZOOM
October 12, 2021
Thank you, Mr./Madam Chair.
As the world seeks to recover from the ravages of the global COVID-19 pandemic, regional and global cooperation take on even greater importance. This is true for the United States, OSCE participating States, and Mediterranean Partners. The COVID-19 virus, as with other security challenges, does not stop at national borders. No country can go it alone.
From its first day in office in January, the Biden-Harris Administration made clear that it sees three urgent tasks associated with global pandemic response and recovery: 1) combatting COVID-19 worldwide; 2) addressing impacts of the pandemic on households; and 3) building back better and developing a global health security architecture capable of responding to emerging health threats. On September 19, President Biden hosted the virtual “Global COVID-19 Summit” on the margins of the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Week. He emphasized that the United States is committed to working with our allies and partners to deliver vaccines around the world. The United States is the largest, single donor to Gavi, the vaccine alliance in support of the COVAX Advance Market Mechanism. We have already shipped nearly 160 million doses to 100 countries, more than all other countries combined have donated. We want to make 2021 a turning point to shape a recovery that promotes the health and prosperity of all people.
In the Mediterranean region, the United States is working closely with states to help mitigate the effects of the pandemic, and recover and rebuild from it. The United States has delivered almost 3.6 million Pfizer vaccines through COVAX and other supplies to Egypt and Tunisia. We also donated hundreds of thousands of Johnson & Johnson vaccines to Morocco and Algeria this summer. We have provided over 36 million U.S. dollars to Jordan to finance purchasing medical equipment and supplies for health facilities to help fight the pandemic. While the provision of vaccines and other health supplies is central to our support to end the pandemic, the United States also supports the economic recovery of our Mediterranean partners. For example, we are pursuing joint U.S. – Tunisia initiatives to help generate jobs as part of the recovery process.
The overall target of the virtual summit – getting shots into arms around the world – can best be achieved when we work together to promote economic recovery. For economic recovery to succeed, we must concert to enhance supply chain security, establish anti-corruption norms and further financial transparency, address the climate crisis, improve equal access to education and healthcare, promote gender equality, and counterterrorism. Strong, democratic, and transparent institutions and good governance are fundamental to advancing all of these interdependent processes.
Mr./Madam Chair, we would be remiss not to underscore the importance of women’s economic empowerment, participation, and leadership and, more broadly, gender equality, which are essential to post-pandemic recovery. As a result of the COVID-19 crisis women in many countries, including my own, have left the workforce in droves because of job loss or the need to provide healthcare or childcare at home. They have left in far greater numbers than their male counterparts. As we seek to “build back better,” we need to take “whole of society approaches.” We know that when women are economically empowered, they re-invest in their families and communities, producing a multiplier effect that spurs economic growth and contributes to global prosperity and security.
Thank you, Mr./Madam Chair.