Global Pandemic Treaty: World Leaders and WTO Back EU’s Proposal to Prepare for Next Pandemic

Written by | Friday, April 2nd, 2021

The idea of an international pandemic treaty put forward by the European Union was backed by leaders of 23 countries and the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Tuesday (30 March). The proposal, first floated by Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, at a G20 summit last November, aims at helping the world deal with future health emergencies like the coronavirus pandemic now ravaging the globe. The international pandemic treaty would also ensure universal and equitable access to vaccines, medicines and diagnostics for pandemics. As COVID-19 will surely not be the last pandemic, global leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, want to be better prepared for the next one.
Leaders from the EU, WTO and 23 countries, including the UK, Fiji, Korea, Chile, Tunisia and Indonesia, called for a new international treaty to better prepare for future pandemics in an op-ed published on Tuesday. The signatories of the op-ed — published in major newspapers worldwide — were global leaders from five continents and included Germany’s Angela Merkel, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Britain’s Boris Johnson, South Korea’s Moon Jae-in and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa. “There will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies. No single government or multilateral agency can address this threat alone,” the leaders wrote in a joint opinion article in major newspapers. “We believe that nations should work together towards a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response,” the op-ed said, adding that “such a renewed collective commitment would be a milestone in stepping up pandemic preparedness at the highest political level.”
Leaders from the US, China, Russia and Japan were conspicuous by their absence among the signatories. It is expected that any successful international pandemic treaty will be the result of a long period of political wrangling. The coronavirus pandemic has seen governments and national leaders trade accusations over each others’ handling of the outbreak, while rich countries have been criticized for hoarding vaccines at the expense of a global equitable distribution. The sentiment was not lost on the signatories which included leaders from the EU and the UK who have been involved in a row over access to AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine doses. “At a time when COVID-19 has exploited our weaknesses and divisions, we must seize this opportunity and come together as a global community for peaceful cooperation that extends beyond this crisis,” the op-ed pleaded.

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