*Say proposal against Chicago Convention
African Ministers of Aviation have described the much-touted proposal to impose vaccine passports for air travellers as unacceptable as it is tantamount to discrimination against certain groups of the population, especially on the African continent which still has a considerable number of its citizens who are yet to receive the vaccines.
They also described the proposal as going against the intent of the Chicago Convention on the need to preserve friendship and understanding, reduce the threat to general security and establish international air transport based on an equal opportunity, operated soundly and economically.
The African Ministers Delegation’s position was made known on Wednesday in a presentation to the ongoing International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) High-Level Conference on COVID-19 by Nigeria’s Minister of Aviation, Hadi Sirika.
Rather than imposing vaccine passports, the African delegation recommended that states party to the convention on international civil aviation should continue to minimize the risks during travel by ensuring compliance with existing multinational treaties, international frameworks, guidelines, and recommendations.
Sirika, on their behalf, also recommended that Human rights, regional/continental/global health security, economic growth, social cohesion, and good international relations, and use of innovation and technology worldwide to harmonize requirements should be promoted, while transmission of critical information across borders related to public health issues such as COVID-19 and coordination among key players should also be considered.
He also stated that African nations frowned at states imposing unilateral measures of global nature related to public health and asked such states to refrain from such practices and instead take measures that would facilitate the reopening and reconnection of the world.
“There is a clear onus on both public and private stakeholders, to take the full measure of the dire circumstances now facing the air transport sector, and to ensure sufficient operational sustainability. These actions are critical to making sure that the world is adequately reconnected, as aviation plays a critical role in the global economic recovery and achieve the realization of the goals of both AU Agenda 2063 and UN Agenda 2030 for sustainable development,” he said.
On the general strategies for recovery, Sirika said: “The global distribution of emergency and humanitarian supplies including the vaccines will no doubt depend on an economically viable aviation system. Aviation is also capable of stimulating recovery and growth of the global economy by acting as an enabler and multiplier of economic activity.”
He also disclosed that two continental joint meetings of African ministers responsible for health, ICT, and transport have been so far organised, with the second joint meeting rolling out the African campaign Against COVID-19: Saving Lives, Economies, and Livelihoods endorsed on August 20, 2020 by the Bureau of the Assembly of the African Union Heads of State and Government with Chairpersons of the Regional Economic Communities of the African Union.