The World Health Organization (WHO) announced that member countries have agreed to create the first draught of a legally binding agreement to protect the world from future pandemics.
WHO stated in a statement released on Thursday that the agreement would consider equity, promote preparedness, ensure solidarity, and respect sovereignty.
According to it, the “zero draught” of the pandemic accord, based on the WHO Constitution, will be discussed by Member States in February 2023.
“Today’s agreement by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), comprised of WHO’s 194 Member States.
“It is a milestone in the global process to learn from the COVID-19 pandemic and prevent a repeat of the devastating impacts it has had on individuals and communities worldwide.
“The INB gathered at WHO headquarters in Geneva from 5-7 December for its third meeting since its establishment in December 2021, following a special session of the World Health Assembly,” it said.
According to the statement, the body agreed that the INB’s Bureau would develop the zero draught of the pandemic accord in order to begin negotiations at the fourth INB meeting, which is scheduled to begin on February 27, 2023.
It stated that the draught would be based on the conceptual zero draught and discussions at the INB meeting this week.
The INB Bureau, according to the statement, is made up of six delegates, one from each of the six WHO regions, including the Co-Chairs, Mr Roland Driece of the Netherlands and Ms Precious Matsoso of South Africa.
Mr Driece, Co-Chair of the INB Bureau, stated that countries have sent a clear message that the world needs to be better prepared, coordinated, and supported to protect all people, everywhere, from a repeat of COVID-19.
He stated that the decision to charge them with developing a zero draught of a pandemic accord is a significant step toward making the world safer.
Ms Matsoso, a Fellow INB Bureau Co-Chair, stated that government representatives stressed the importance of equity, strengthening preparedness, ensuring solidarity, promoting a whole-of-society and whole-of-government approach, and respecting country sovereignty in any future pandemic accord.
“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 in the pursuit of health for all.
“Also develop a global accord that safeguards societies from future pandemic threats.
“The WHO pandemic accord is being considered with a view to its adoption under Article 19 of the WHO Constitution, without prejudice to also considering, as work progresses, the suitability of Article 21,” Matsoso said.