The World Health Organization (WHO) is moving ahead with plans to enact a new or revised international pandemic preparedness treaty, despite encountering setbacks earlier this summer after dozens of countries, primarily outside the Western world, objected to the plan.
A majority of WHO member states on July 21, during a meeting of WHO’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), agreed to pursue a legally binding pandemic instrument that will contain “both legally binding as well as non-legally binding elements.”
STAT News described the agreement, which would create a new global framework for responding to pandemics, as “the most transformative global health call to action since [the] WHO itself was formed as the first specialized United Nations agency in 1948.”
Meanwhile, the World Economic Forum, African Union and World Bank — which created a $1 billion fund for “disease surveillance” and “support against the current as well as future pandemics” — are developing their own pandemic response mechanisms, including new cross-country vaccine passport frameworks.
WHO’s ‘pandemic treaty’: what’s been proposed and what would it mean?
Ongoing talks to formulate a new or revised “pandemic treaty” are building on the existing international framework for global pandemic response, the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHR), considered a binding instrument of international law.
On Dec. 1, 2021, in response to calls from various governments for a “strengthened global pandemic strategy” and signaling the urgency with which these entities are acting, the WHO formally launched the process of creating a new treaty or amending the IHR, during Special Session — only the second in the organization’s history
During the meeting, held May 10-11, WHO’s 194 member countries unanimously agreed to launch the process, which previously had been discussed only informally.
Read more: WHO Renews Push for Global Pandemic Treaty, as World Bank Creates $1 Billion Fund for Vaccine Passports