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WHO director welcomes chance for healing after Biden victory

The World Health Organization congratulated president-elect Joe Biden and plans to work with his new administration toward healing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI&nbsp; | <a href="/News_Photos/lp/c9641eeafd06046df186b595876f9b8c/" target="_blank">License Photo</a>
The World Health Organization congratulated president-elect Joe Biden and plans to work with his new administration toward healing amid the COVID-19 pandemic. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI  | License Photo

Nov. 9 (UPI) -- World Health Organization Director Tedros Ghebreyesus on Monday welcomed a chance to work with president-elect Joe Biden toward healing after years of "misguided nationalism."

Ghebreyesus said that the world achieved "great convergence" in 2015, when Biden happened to be vice president under former president Barack Obama's administration. In particular, he said that governments adopted the Sustainable Development Goals, the Paris Agreement and the Addis Ababa Action Agenda promoting trade and debt sustainability in 2015.

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"Since then, the creeping tides of misguided nationalism and isolationism have eroded that sense of common purpose," Ghebreyesus said. "The Paris Agreement has been undermined; the commitments made in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda have gone largely unfulfilled; and although there has been progress toward the SDGs, too often our efforts have remained siloed and splintered."

Ghebreyesus made the remarks to member states before the World Health Assembly, which resumed proceedings Monday after its session in May was cut short due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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He hailed the chance to work toward healing under a new U.S. administration.

"However, we must be honest: we can only realize the full power and potential of the SDGs if the international community urgently recaptures the sense of common purpose that gave birth to them," Ghebreyesus said. "In that spirit, we congratulate President-elect Joe Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris and we look forward to working with their administration very closely."

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He added that it was time for a new era of cooperation, emphasizing health and well-being globally.

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"It's time for the world to heal -- from the ravages of this pandemic, and the geopolitical divisions that only drive us further into the chasm of an unhealthier, un-safer and unfairer future," he said.

The United States decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate change went into effect Nov. 4. Biden has vowed to rejoin the agreement when he takes office.

Trump has said the country would work in its sovereign interest on trade and Biden is expected to review some of the tariffs on global imports.

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Under the Trump administration, the U.S. ranking for integrating sustainable development goals ranked at the bottom as it withdrew from the U.N. human rights council, and Trump has pledged to withdraw from the WHO. Biden has pledged to reverse Trump's withdrawal from the WHO amid the COVID-19 pandemic and to rejoin the human rights council.

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