World Health Organization (WHO) member states agreed Wednesday to start developing the first draft of a legally binding agreement designed to protect the world from future pandemics.
“Countries have delivered a clear message that the world must be better prepared, coordinated, and supported to protect all people, everywhere, from a repeat of COVID-19,” said Roland Driece, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) Bureau.
In December last year, a WHO assembly special meeting agreed to negotiate an accord to forge a future global response to pandemic prevention and preparedness following the emergence of COVID-19.
In February, INB members began work on a draft and presented it to WHO member states in late November, aware that some countries worry that an accord could diminish national autonomy.
“There will be some provisions that will be legally binding, and some will be non-legally binding. Exactly what article in the WHO Constitution this ends up falling under is not determined yet,” US Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto said at a press conference on Dec. 2 at the US Mission to the UN in Geneva.
Precious Matsoso of South Africa said, “the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human lives, economies, and societies at large must never be forgotten.”
“The best chance we have, today, as a global community, to prevent a repeat of the past is to come together, in the spirit of solidarity, in a commitment to equity…and develop a global accord that safeguards societies from future pandemic threats.”