Democrat President Joe Biden and his fellow leaders of the Group of 20 (G20) have issued a joint declaration pushing for global vaccine passports requirements.
The declaration promotes a global standard on “digital solutions” for identification and “proof of vaccinations” for international travel.
G20 leaders are calling for the establishment of “global digital health networks” that build on existing digital COVID-19 vaccine passport schemes.
The joint statement, which was published by the White House, followed the conclusion of the G20 summit held in Bali, Indonesia.
Leaders had gathered at the summit to discuss global challenges and coordinate policies in response to Covid and future pandemics.
“We acknowledge the importance of shared technical standards and verification methods, under the framework of the IHR (2005), to facilitate seamless international travel, interoperability, and recognizing digital solutions and non-digital solutions, including proof of vaccinations,” the G20 joint declaration reads.
The 2005 International Health Regulations is an instrument of international law developed under the auspices of the World Health Organization (WHO).
It lays down a global framework for responding to the international spread of disease.
The WHO-backed standard, which came into force in 2007, required countries to strengthen surveillance capacities at border crossings.
It also introduced a series of health documents, including international certificates of vaccination.
Besides acknowledging the utility of the IHR framework, the G20 leaders said they support ongoing “international dialogue and collaboration on the establishment of trusted global digital health networks as part of the efforts to strengthen prevention and response to future pandemics.”
They added that these global digital health networks should “capitalize and build on the success of the existing standards and digital COVID-19 certificates.”
Vaccine passports, along with various other forms of digital identity schemes, have been criticized as an invasion of privacy and as having the potential to enable governments and corporations to coerce human behavior by, for instance, denying access to infrastructure or services.
The joint declaration follows recommendations from Indonesia’s Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin.
“Let’s have a digital health certificate acknowledged by WHO—if you have been vaccinated or tested properly—then you can move around,” he said during a Business 20 (B20) panel on November 14, ahead of the G20 summit.
Sadikin added that the benefit of a global WHO-standardized vaccine passport would be to facilitate international travel.
“So for the next pandemic, instead of stopping the movement of the people 100 percent, which stopped the economy globally, you can still provide some movement of the people,” he added.
Sadikin added that G20 countries have agreed to such a global digital health certificate and that the idea now is to introduce it as a revision to the IHR framework at the next World Health Assembly.
The next World Health Assembly is scheduled for May 2023 in Geneva, Switzerland.
In a 132-page document that contains a series of recommendations for the G20, the B20 urged the widespread adoption of digital documentation of COVID-19 certificates.
They insist that the digital certificates would be part of a “technology-enabled ‘always-on’ global health infrastructure.”
In a February 2022 report (pdf), the World Economic Forum (WEF) said that vaccine passports serve as a form of digital identity.
In an earlier report (pdf), the WEF said that “digital identity determines what products, services, and information we can access—or, conversely, what is closed off to us.”