The “anti-pandemic treaty” is getting closer and closer. WHO has released the working version

Recognition of WHO’s “central role in pandemic prevention, preparedness and response as an international guiding and coordinating body, pooling and generating scientific evidence” Working draft of the WHO defining an “anti-pandemic treaty”. A new working draft is expected to be released by November 2022, building on additional contributions from Member States, and formal negotiations will begin. The treaty is to be adopted by the end of May 2024.

According to Ordo Iuris, the second session of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) was held in Geneva on July 18-22, 2022, established to develop an international tool for global health coordination under the leadership of the World Health Organization.

At the meeting in Geneva, the discussion of the Member States began by examining a working concept prepared on the basis of contributions previously collected from countries and private entities admitted to the work of the INB. First of all, the analyzed draft outlines a set of general principles to be inspired by the Convention and what provisions it should contain. The vision that guides the entire document focuses heavily on “respect for human rights, solidarity and justice”, which have often been generic terms in the international legal landscape, interpreted so broadly as to include safeguards not recognized in the international treaty ( such as the right to abortion). ).

Another general and vague principle set out in the contract and recognized as key to achieving the stated goals is the so-called “Right to health”, which should be understood – as the INB Presidency writes – “as a state of complete physical, mental and social well-being”. This “right to health” should be seen in light of the sustainable development goals – including universal access to abortion – and the principle of “gender equality” as a basis for an effective structure of prevention and preparedness to deal with the consequences of a pandemic. On this subject, the work project states: “Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response will address the specific needs of women and girls, using a country-specific, gender-aware, participatory and fully transparent approach.”

Following the initial recognition of state sovereignty over public health, the draft agreed to recognize WHO’s central role in pandemic prevention, preparedness and response as an international steering and coordinating body, convening meetings and conducting scientific research. generate evidence. In the same context, the work project speaks of “measures to establish, regularly update and expand the implementation of the Global Peer Review Mechanism to assess national, regional and global preparedness capacities and gaps, by connecting countries to a government-wide approach” “.

Another critical point in the project discussed by the countries in the second re-session is item 13 on “Pandemic coping skills and public health”. This section states that “awareness of public health and pandemic issues and the fight against false, misleading or disinforming information are key elements in achieving and enforcing the objective of the international instrument to be adopted. Currently, when developing international, regional or national legislative, administrative, technical and/or other measures to prevent a pandemic, Member States must take into account measures to counter disinformation, disinformation and fake news, and to promote educational programs and raising public awareness of the pandemic”. According to the text, states should also be involved in developing measures to “design communications and messages for the public”.

During the sessions, delegations made many comments on the content of the agreement, with almost all delegations agreeing to a stronger focus on human rights and justice. Among the stakeholders who spoke, Gavi Alliance and Women in Global Health emphasized the need to respect gender equality – all genders, a spokeswoman for Women in Global Health – said to include this principle in all provisions. With regard to the binding or non-binding nature of the contract – no discussion on this subject was broadcast by INB. In the speech that summed up the entire session, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director General of WHO to the participants: “The binding nature of the instrument is very important and this is what you have decided.” It is therefore presumed that an agreement has been concluded by the States to conclude an agreement under Art. 19 or 21 of the WHO Constitution.

The agenda agreed by the individual delegations at the end of the meeting foresees the following steps: further contributions from stakeholders and Member States by 15 September, the start of regional consultations from 22 August to 28 October, a second session of public hearings with all stakeholders at the end of September and the drafting of the treaty in November ahead of the third INB meeting from December 5 to 7, 2022. The international agreement is expected to be adopted in May 2024.

Source: Ordo Iuris

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