Due Diligence and the Threat of Vaccine Apartheid
The most distinct questions that arise from the case of Covid-19 vaccine distribution are namely: to which degree does due diligence come into effect in the case of an international organization assuming the role of governance? Is the normative influence of due diligence sufficient enough to encourage sustainable and equitable distribution of healthcare? What are some of the mechanisms that could be put in place to overcome the discrepancy with regards to the vaccine apartheid and what are their chances of success?
The definition of Coco and de Souza Dias (2020) with regards to due diligence is simplistic yet all-encompassing: “(Due diligence) ... it is a standard of good governance, assessing whether a state has done what was reasonably expected of it when responding to a harm or danger.” In a situation like a once-in-a-century pandemic, the realist approach to international relations comes back, meaning that states are central actors who can protect their people in the face of threats. This point of view could inherently undermine the element of due diligence which relies upon responsibilities of states outside of their borders. International organizations, like the World Health Organization in this case, are regarded as supplementary actors, as can be seen by the self-satisfying actions of states. This ranges from unilateral actions that block trade and traffic of civilians, draconian measures in the name of public protection, and international beef with China, the assumed origin country of the virus. The latter point is rather hypocritical as the element of due diligence, on the basis of the 2001 Draft Articles on the Prevention of Transboundary Harm, Article 3, on reporting such public health concerns but not necessarily on the 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, Article 12.1 with rega