Basic information on cookies
A cookie is a small information file that is stored in your browser every time you visit our website.
Cookies are used to keep a log of your activities on our website, in order to identify you on future visits and configure the content based on your browsing habits, identity and preferences.
Users are free to delete, accept, block and delete cookies. This can be done using the options in this window or through the browser's settings, as appropriate.
The correct operation of the different functions of our website cannot be guaranteed if cookies are rejected.
See the "COOKIES POLICY" section on our website for further details.

Former heads of state and Nobel laureates call on President Biden to waive intellectual property rules for COVID vaccines Former heads of state and Nobel laureates call on President Biden to waive intellectual property rules for COVID vaccines

Apr 152021

Former heads of state and Nobel laureates call on President Biden to waive intellectual property rules for COVID vaccines

The open letter includes names such as Gordon Brown, Helen Clark, Elizabeth H. Blackburn François Holland, Muhammad Yunus, Mary Robinson and Joseph Stiglitz

More than 170 former heads of state and government and Nobel laureates, called on President Biden to support a waiver of intellectual property rules for COVID-19 vaccines and pursue a people’s vaccine to end the pandemic in an open letter sent today. Signatories include former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom Gordon Brown, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, former President of France François Holland, former Prime Minister of New Zealand Helen Clark, former President of Brazil Fernando Henrique Cardoso, and former President of Malawi Joyce Banda, all Members of Club de Madrid, together with over 60 other former heads of state and government that span every continent. Nobel Laureates Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Professor Elizabeth H. Blackburn and Professor Muhammad Yunus are also part of the call to Biden.

The letter was sent to the White House as U.S. health authorities advised a pause in the use of the Johnson & Johnson Covid-19 vaccine. A waiver of intellectual property rules would allow for a scale up in manufacturing in the U.S. and around the world, overcoming artificial supply constraints.

This international action, which was coordinated by the People’s Vaccine Alliance, a coalition of more than 50 organizations including Club de Madrid, the Yunus Centre, Oxfam and UNAIDS, warned that at the current global immunization rate, it was likely that only 10 percent of people in the majority of poor countries will be vaccinated in the next year.

The former Prime Ministers and Presidents and Nobel Laureates encourage President Biden to take the urgent action only he can, for this moment to “be remembered in history as the time we chose to put the collective right to safety for all ahead of the commercial monopolies of the few.”

Read Letter

The letter specifically asks President Biden to support a proposal from the South African and Indian governments at the World Trade Organization (WTO), to temporarily waive intellectual property rules related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments so as to allow for generic manufacturing around the world, warning that, at the current pace of vaccinations, most poor nations will be left waiting until at least 2024 to achieve mass COVID-19 immunization.

"President Biden has said that no one is safe until everyone is safe, and now with the G7 ahead there is an unparalleled opportunity to provide the leadership that only the U.S. can provide and that hastens an end to the pandemic for the world,” said Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Member of Club de Madrid. “An urgent temporary waiver of intellectual property rules at the World Trade Organization would help us ramp up global supply of vaccines together with a global multi-year burden sharing plan to finance vaccines for the poorest countries. This would be in the strategic interests of the U.S., and of every country on the planet".

The leaders also called for the intellectual property waiver to be accompanied by the open sharing of vaccine know-how and technology, and by coordinated global investment in research, development, and manufacturing capacity, underscoring that threats to public health are global, and that strategic government investment, action, global cooperation, and solidarity are vital.

These actions would expand global manufacturing capacity, unhindered by industry monopolies that are driving the dire supply shortages blocking vaccine access. Given artificial global supply shortages, the leaders warned that the US economy already risks losing $1.3 trillion in GDP this year because of vaccine inequity, and if the virus is left to roam the world, and even if vaccinated, people in the U.S. would continue to be exposed to new viral variants.

List of Club de Madrid Signatories

Esko Aho - Prime Minister of Finland (1991-1995) and Member of Club de Madrid

Joyce Banda - President of the Republic of Malawi (2012-2014) and Member of Club de Madrid

Valdis Birkavs - Prime Minister of Latvia (1993-1994) and Member of Club de Madrid

Kjell Magne Bondevik - Prime Minister of Norway (1997-2000; 2001-2005) and Member of Club de Madrid

Gordon Brown - Prime Minister of the United Kingdom (2007-2010) and Member of Club de Madrid

Kim Campbell - Prime Minister of Canada (1993) and Member of Club de Madrid

Fernando Henrique Cardoso - President of Brazil (1995-2003) and Member of Club de Madrid

Laura Chinchilla Miranda - President of Costa Rica (2010-2014) and Vice President of Club de Madrid

Joaquim Chissano - President of Mozambique (1986-2005) and Member of Club de Madrid

Helen Clark - Prime Minister of New Zealand (1999-2008) and Member of Club de Madrid

Marie-Louise Coleiro Preca - President of Malta (2014-2019) and Member of Club de Madrid

Luisa Diogo - Prime Minister of Mozambique (2004-2010) and Member of Club de Madrid

Mikhail Gorbachev - Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1990); President of the Soviet Union (1985-1991) and Member of Club de Madrid

Dalia Grybauskaitė - President of Lithuania (2009-2019) and Member of Club de Madrid

Alfred Gusenbauer - Chancellor of Austria (2007-2008) and Member of Club de Madrid

Tarja Halonen - President of Finland (2000-2012) and Member of Club de Madrid

François Hollande - President of France (2012-2017) and Member of Club de Madrid

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - President of Liberia (2006-2018) and Member of Club de Madrid

Mehdi Jomaa - Prime Minister of Tunisia (2014-2015) and Member of Club de Madrid

Ivo Josipović - President of Croatia (2010-2015) and Member of Club de Madrid

Aleksander Kwaśniewski - President of Poland (1995-2005) and Member of Club de Madrid

Ricardo Lagos - President of Chile (2000-2006) and Member of Club de Madrid

Zlatko Lagumdžija - Prime Minister of Bosnia Herzegovina (2001-2002) and Member of Club de Madrid

Yves Leterme - Prime Minister of Belgium (2008, 2009-2011) and Member of Club de Madrid

Mauricio Macri - President of Argentina (2015-2019) and Member of Club de Madrid

Rexhep Meidani - President of Albania (1977-2002) and Member of Club de Madrid

Carlos Mesa – President of Bolivia (2003-2005) and Member of Club de Madrid

James Michel - President of the Seychelles (2004-2016) and Member of Club de Madrid

Mario Monti - Prime Minister of Italy (2011-2013) and Member of Club de Madrid

Olusegun Obasanjo - President of Nigeria (1976-1979; 1999-2007) and Member

JP Patterson - Prime Minister of Jamaica (1992-2006) and Member of Club de Madrid

Romano Prodi - Prime Minister of Italy (1996-1998; 2006-2008) and Member of Club de Madrid

Jorge Tuto Quiroga - President of Bolivia (2001-2002) and Member of Club de Madrid

Iveta Radičová - Prime Minister of Slovakia (2010-2012) and Member of Club de Madrid

José Manuel Ramos-Horta - President of Timor-Leste (2007-2012), Nobel Peace Prize Laureate (1996) and Member of Club de Madrid

Mary Robinson - President of Ireland (1990-1997) and Member of Club de Madrid

José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero - President of the Government of Spain (2004-2011) and Member of Club de Madrid

Petre Roman - Prime Minister of Romania (1989-1991) and Member of Club de Madrid

Jenny Shipley - Prime Minister of New Zealand (1997-1999) and Member of Club de Madrid

Alexander Stubb - Prime Minister of Finland (2014-2015) and Member of Club de Madrid

Boris Tadić - President of Serbia (2004-2012) and Member of Club de Madrid

Martín Torrijos - President of Panama (2004-2009) and Member of Club de Madrid

Elbegdorj Tsakhia - President of Mongolia (2009-2017) and Member of Club de Madrid

Danilo Türk - President of Slovenia (2007-2012) and President of Club de Madrid

Cassam Uteem - President of Mauritius (1992-2002) and Member of Club de Madrid

Vaira Vīķe-Freiberga - President of Latvia (1999-2007) and Member of Club de Madrid

Viktor Yushchenko - President of Ukraine (2005-2010) and Member of Club de Madrid

GET INVOLVED

GET INVOLVED

WE CAN'T DO IT ALONE

WLA-CdM is committed to advancing democracy worldwide. With your
support, we can advance democratic values and foster social and political change.
You can help ensure a sustainable future for the next generations by joining our
efforts in a variety of ways. Here’s how you can make a difference.