Leaders of the European Union, (EU) the World Health Organization (WHO) and 23 countries expressed support Tuesday for an international pandemic treaty to help the world better address future global medical emergencies.
The world leaders, along with the WHO and the EU, signed a commentary published in several media outlets Tuesday expressing support for such an agreement. The U.S. China, and Russia are not among the signatories.
The idea of such a treaty, to ensure universal and equitable access to vaccines, medicine and diagnostics for pandemics, was floated by European Council (the EU’s political arm) President Charles Michel at a G20 summit last November. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson expressed support for such a treaty earlier this year.
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In a joint, virtual news conference from Brussels and Geneva, EU Council President Michel and WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus laid out the need for such an international agreement.
Michel said, “COVID-19 has exposed weaknesses and divisions across our societies, and now, it is time to come together as one global community to build a pandemic defense for future generations that extends far beyond this crisis.”
Michel compared the situation to post-World War II, when the world’s leaders came together to build a “multi-lateral model” for international cooperation.”
Such a treaty would state that the health of humans, animals and the planet are all connected and should lead to shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation globally.
Tedros said the treaty would help to tackle gaps exposed by COVID-19, strengthen implementation of international health regulations and provide a framework for cooperation in areas such as pandemic prevention and response.
He said, “The treaty, which could be taken forward by the World Health Assembly, would be based on the WHO constitution including the principles of health for all and no discrimination.” He said WHO member states would determine the content and whether it was ratified.
He also said that in discussions they have had with member states, all – including the United States and China – have reacted positively to the proposal.