- Countries are meeting for three days to agree the next steps under the historic legal instrument, enshrined in the World Health Organization’s Constitution, designed to protect the world from future pandemics.
- During the discussions, member states call for a global agreement that takes into account equality, promotes preparedness, ensures solidarity and respects sovereignty.
- The zero draft agreement on the pandemic will be ready for negotiations by member states starting in February 2023.
Member states of the World Health Organization today agreed to create the first draft of a legally binding agreement designed to protect the world from future pandemics. This “zero draft” pandemic agreement, enshrined in the WHO Constitution, will be discussed by member states in February 2023.
Today’s agreement by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), which consists of 194 member states of the World Health Organization, was a milestone in the global process of learning from the COVID-19 pandemic and preventing a repeat of the devastating effects it has had on individuals and communities around the world. The INB gathered at the WHO headquarters in Geneva from December 5 to 7 for its the third meeting since its establishment in December 2021, after a special session of the World Health Assembly.
The body agreed today that the INB Bureau will develop a zero draft agreement on the pandemic to begin negotiations at the fourth meeting of the INB, due to start on 27 February 2023. This draft will be based on conceptual zero draft and discussions during this week’s INB meeting. The INB office consists of six delegates, one from each of the six WHO regions, including co-chairs Mr. Roland Driece from the Netherlands and Ms. Precious Matsoso from South Africa.
“Countries have sent a clear message that the world must be better prepared, coordinated and supported to protect all people, everywhere, from a recurrence of COVID-19,” said Mr. Driece, co-chair of the INB office. “The decision to entrust us with the task of developing a zero-draft pandemic agreement represents a major milestone on the road to making the world safer.”
Co-chair of the INB office, Ms Matsoso, said government representatives stressed that any future agreement on the pandemic would have to take into account fairness, strengthen preparedness, ensure solidarity, promote a whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach and respect for countries’ sovereignty.
“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on people’s lives, economies and societies in general must never be forgotten,” said Ms Matsoso. “The best chance we have today, as a global community, to prevent a repeat of the past is to come together, in a spirit of solidarity, in a commitment to equality and in the pursuit of health for all, and develop a global agreement that protects societies from future pandemic threats.”
The WHO Pandemic Agreement is being considered with a view to its adoption under Article 19 of the WHO Constitution, without questioning, as the work progresses, the appropriateness of Article 21.
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