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WHO, Global Leaders Call for ‘Pandemic Treaty’

There were few details to explain how such an agreement might actually compel countries to act more cooperatively

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Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

The World Health Organization’s Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and global leaders such as Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Italian Premier Mario Draghi were among over 20 “heads of government and global agencies” looking to form a ‘pandemic treaty.’ In a “commentary published Tuesday for an international treaty for pandemic preparedness that they say will protect future generations in the wake of COVID-19” reports the Associated Press.

However, “there were few details to explain how such an agreement might actually compel countries to act more cooperatively,” writes the AP. The proposal called for “a renewed collective commitment’ to reinforce preparedness and response systems by leveraging the U.N. health agency’s constitution.”

In a news conference, Tedros stated, “the world cannot afford to wait until the pandemic is over to start planning for the next one.” He said a treaty would provide “a framework for international cooperation and solidarity” and address issues like surveillance systems and responding to outbreaks” reports the AP.

The Associated Press writes that although international regulations governing health by WHO already exists, it “can be disregarded by countries with few consequences.” For example, “despite an obligation for nations to share critical epidemic data and materials quickly with WHO…China declined to do so when the coronavirus first broke out.”

An AP investigation last year found WHO officials “had little means of compelling them to share details.” WHO’s principal legal officer Steven Solomon said a pandemic treaty would need to be ratified by lawmakers in participating countries. Solomon added, “specifics about enforcement will be up to member states to decide on” which may account for the vague plans on how to get countries to abide and cooperate.

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