WHO Launches Tech Hub in Berlin With USD$100 Million From Germany | ILO Report on Social Protection | Cybersecurity Norms at the UN: Switzerland Leads the Debate at the Parliament This Fall

Interview with Swiss Senator CARLO SOMMARUGA on the new initiatives on Cybersecurity currently underway at the Swiss Parliament, the Istanbul Convention, and Science Diplomacy

Carlo Sommaruga is a Senator in Switzerland, representing the State of Geneva, from the Social Democrats’ party. We interviewed him via Zoom, while he was on a train on the way to Bern, to find out what is on his agenda for the Fall 2021 and how science diplomacy can play a key role on Switzerlands’s foreign policy. We also spoke about new cybersecurity frameworks and the role that the Swiss Parliament will have —alongside the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs — on supporting the UN on these matters. Also a priority in the Swiss Parliament this September are the criminal law reforms on the definition of rape, to bring it in line with the Istanbul Convention on the aspect of consent. This is a much needed, overdue, update of the Swiss legislation to protect women’s rights (although women constitute the majority of rape victims, they are not alone, as persons who identify as LGBTQs also suffer from this oversight on the legislation). There is also the very important upcoming Swiss vote to legalize gay marriage. Watch:

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ILO World Social Protection Report 2020-2022

The International Labour Organization launched its flagship report on the state of social protection around the world today in Geneva. ILO Director-General Guy Ryder presented the findings alongside ILO’s Gender and Social Development expert Shahra Razavi.

What You Have to Retain

“More than 4 billion people still lack social protection.”

There is also glaring insufficient administrative capacity in low-and-middle income countries on the development and design of social protection policies and delivery of services. ILO’s Director-General Guy Ryder said the U.N. labour agency can play a role here, supporting countries that want to design forward-thinking programs, based on best practices observed by ILO experts around the globe. Argentina is a good example on social protection schemes for mothers and children, as well as its pension reforms to include women’s time away from the labour force to take care of and educate children to be included in the calculation of their pensions.


Developed countries spend 12.8% of the GDP on social protection programs.

Middle-income 8% of their GDP.

Low-income countries invest a meager 1.1% of their GDP.

Fiscal Policy Space

There is clearly fiscal policy space to address an increased need for social protection floors, stated ILO’s DG, as well as the question of progressive taxation.

For low-income countries there is talk of a Global Fund for Social Protection in the hallways of the UN, carried by the Office of the Higher Commissioner for Human Rights Special Rapporteur on Poverty. UN Human Rights Commissioner, Michelle Bachelet, will present the ILO report to the wider public tomorrow, alongside UN Deputy Secretary-General Amina J. Mohammed, the outgoing Executive Director of UNICEF, Henrietta Fore, and ILO’s DG Guy Ryder.

ILO’s DG also emphasized the event that will take place at the UN General Assembly in the coming weeks, when heads-of-state speak, in late September. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres will address the GA calling for adaptation and mitigation measures, social protection as a human right, and decent work as an anchor to dignity. UN SG will stress ethical and rational reasons for decent work to tackle social justice.

Technology plays a vital role in the delivery of services but there are caveats. On the question of pensions, while 77% of the world’s population of retirement age receives a pension, the amount of benefits received leaves most under the poverty level as the pensions do not take into account indexation to current cost of living in developed as well as developing economies, with women the most affected, as they spend time away from the labour force as it falls upon them on most societies to take care of children, the sick in their families, and elder relatives, stated Ms. Razavi, ILO’s Gender and Development lead. Something that was observed by countless studies on the impact of the pandemic on women’s careers and lifetime earnings.

Check the full report here.

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German Government Finances WHO Tech Hub in Berlin

A generous investment of US$ 100 million from the German government will launch the hub that is to focus on early detection, data analytics, and public health events that can lead to a pandemic. A partnership between country-members with health tech companies, other public health institutions and actors to harness the power of innovation in data science for “public health surveillance and response”. The hub is part of WHO’s Health Emergencies Programme, and emphasis is on a collaboration among country-members and private sector partners. Tech for good is the mot d’ordre.

Its mission?

“Provide the world with better data, analytics and decisions to detect and respond to health emergencies.”

German Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization Director-General, inaugurate the new WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, based in Berlin, this afternoon.

“The world needs to be able to detect new events with pandemic potential and to monitor disease control measures on a real-time basis to create effective pandemic and epidemic risk management,” said Dr Tedros. “This Hub will be key to that effort, leveraging innovations in data science for public health surveillance and response, and creating systems whereby we can share and expand expertise in this area globally.”

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You can watch the inauguration of the WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence here. The UN and WHO are also thanking the German Chancellor for her leadership on global public health.

Who will be there

Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO, and HE Dr Angela Merkel, Chancellor of the Federal Republic of Germany will inaugurate the new global WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence in Berlin. 

The Hub will bring together partners worldwide to collaborate and create the tools and data needed for all countries to prepare, detect and respond to pandemic and epidemic risks.

This special event will also include a ceremony to recognize Chancellor Merkel’s outstanding leadership in global public health. 

Additional speakers: Jens Spahn, HE German Federal Minister of Health; HE Michael Müller, Governing Mayor of Berlin; Michael J Ryan, Executive Director WHO Health Emergencies Programme.

Panelists: Fabiola Gianotti, CERN Director-General; Katalin Karikó, BioNTech Senior Vice President; Sabine Gabrysch, Professor for Climate Change and Health, Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research and Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin; Chikwe Ihekweazu, Nigeria Centre for Disease Control Director-General.

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Letter from the Editor-in-Chief

Dear Subscribers,​

Thank you for reading. ​I am Maya Plentz, the Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The UN Brief. ​ We cover the United Nations, the UN Human Rights Council, the WTO, and other specialized agencies in the UN system in Geneva, New York, Vienna, ​and ​its regional offices around the world.  We ​also​ cover the EU and other multilateral organizations that are convening the private sector and governments to shape regulatory frameworks that support the rapid technological transformation of the various sectors of the global economy.

We interview technology executives and venture capital investors who are keen on financing the UN Sustainable Development Goals​, and support democratic institutions and the ethical use of emerging technologies around the globe. 

These are leaders and tech companies that are harnessing technology to reduce economic inequalities. They create prosperity around the globe by integrating the most vulnerable citizens in the digital economy, be it in a developed or developing economy. 

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