Global accountability to prevent pandemics

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Delays on Pandemic Treaty Prolong the Danger to Global Health Security, says GPHC Panel

LONDON & MIAMI–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The Panel for a Global Public Health Convention (PGPHC) expressed disappointment today over indications that the World Health Assembly is planning to postpone until November 2021 the decision to start preparing a new pandemic treaty. At a time when the world needs urgent action, a delay of any length undermines the momentum toward bringing countries together to ratify a global public health treaty or convention.

The draft resolution, which is currently under consideration at the WHA, calls for the Director General of the World Health Organization (WHO) to convene a special session of the WHA in autumn. In the meantime, a working group would assess the benefits of developing a WHO convention, or another instrument on pandemic preparedness and response.

“The plan was for a resolution at the WHA to enable an intergovernmental working group, led by a Head of State, to start working on this treaty. Instead, it appears we will now have a decision to look at this again later this year. This is unacceptable,” said Dame Barbara Stocking, Chair of the PGPHC, and President of Murray Edwards College, University of Cambridge. “It seems that governments have not yet understood the ongoing risk we face. We ask our leaders to recognise that the ‘wait and see’ approach they took in February 2020 which allowed the current pandemic to run rife, should not be taken again. We should not be ‘waiting to see’ whether we will have a global treaty which will in any case take months to be agreed.”

Despite the delay, Member States and other relevant stakeholders should take every opportunity to move the process forward before the special session of the WHA in November. They should come together and back the working group which will begin developing the outlines of an agreement that will be debated in autumn. Additionally, the UN General Assembly in September offers an important opportunity for Member States to debate key elements of the treaty and demonstrate strong backing for it by heads of state, along with opportunities at the upcoming G7 and G20 summits.

Covid-19 has affected every single person across the globe, whether in health, in the trials and emotional loss of lockdown, to pushing many millions of people into poverty and financial uncertainty. This is a moment when global leaders should come together in solidarity, not just to get us safely out of this pandemic, but to be much more prepared for the next one.

The Panel for a Global Public Health Convention (GPHC) is an independent coalition of global leaders working to strengthen the world’s ability to prevent, prepare, and respond to infectious disease outbreaks before they become widespread pandemics. The Panel was founded in 2020 in response to the emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic with the aim of bridging critical gaps in the global public health architecture and policy frameworks by promulgating a new global public health treaty or convention in an effort to ensure another pandemic of such magnitude does not happen again. To learn more, visit, and follow us on Twitter @GPHC_Panel.

Anicca Liu
Project Manger, Panel for a Global Public Health Convention