The international pandemic treaty, proposed by the European Union and signed by 25 heads of state and government, may be ready to be signed as early as May, announced today the director-general of the World Health Organization.
“The 194 member states of the World Health Organization (WHO) will now start negotiations and we hope to have a resolution in May, when the General Health Assembly is held,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus at a press conference to present the treaty, whose goal is to prepare the planet for future pandemics.
Although the content of the agreement depends on these negotiations, Tedros expressed interest in including at least three key points: sharing prevention and emergency measures, information on pathogens (viruses and other causes of diseases) and tools to fight epidemics, including medicines, vaccines and tests.
“The world cannot wait for the current pandemic to end in order to prepare itself to face the next one”, underlined the Ethiopian official, referring that the health crisis “exposed flaws in the preparedness systems for national, regional and global epidemics”.
Tedros also considered that the pandemic “showed the need for a universal commitment”, a treaty that “creates a structure for international cooperation and solidarity”.
The future treaty, he said, could base its text on principles already present in the WHO constitution, including those that advocate “health for all” and reject discrimination.
Among the heads of state and government who signed the petition to create an international treaty against pandemics are Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, the Presidents of Chile (Sebastián Piñera) and the Costa Rica (Carlos Alvarado Quesada) and German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Also the Presidents of France (Emmanuel Macron), Indonesia (Joko Widodo), South Africa (Cyril Ramaphosa) and South Korea (Moon Jae-in), and the head of the Spanish Government, Pedro Sánchez, are among the signatories of the petition .
Tedros downplayed the absence of leaders from countries such as the United States, Russia or China in this appeal, indicating that, for the time being, the document is only a letter of intent and that all WHO member states will participate in future negotiations.
European Council President Charles Michel also attended today’s press conference, recalling the idea, presented last year by the EU, of a pandemic treaty and underlining that the document “can improve prevention and response to future pandemics “.
“Covid-19 has exposed the weaknesses and divisions of our societies and it is time to unite as a global community to build a defense for future generations,” he concluded.
The two officials explained that the treaty will function as a “legacy” because “the next pandemic is not a matter of ‘if’, but of ‘when'”.
“It is our responsibility as leaders to ensure that pandemic preparedness and health systems are ready for the 21st century. Let us leave a legacy that we can all be proud of,” he said.
Charles Michel originally advanced in November 2020 with the idea of an International Treaty on Pandemics, supported, already this year, by the G7 as well as by the 27 EU Member States, at a European Council in late February.