BRUSSELS – Citing what they call “the greatest challenge facing the global community since the 1940s,” the leaders of 25 countries, the European Union and the World Health Organization signed an international treaty on Tuesday to protect the world from pandemics closed.
In a joint article published in numerous newspapers around the world, leaders warn that the current coronavirus pandemic will inevitably be followed by others at some point. You outline a treaty that is intended to enable universal and equitable access to vaccines, drugs and diagnostics. This proposal was first made in November by Charles Michel, President of the European Council, the body that represents the heads of state and government of EU countries.
The article argues that an international understanding similar to that after World War II that led to the United Nations is required to build cross-border collaboration before the next global health crisis stirs economies and lives. The current pandemic is “a strong and painful reminder that no one is safe until everyone is safe,” write the leaders.
The proposed treaty is a recognition that the current system of international health institutions, symbolized by the relatively powerless World Health Organization, a United Nations agency, is inadequate to deal with the problem.
“There will be other pandemics and other major health emergencies. No single government or multilateral agency can counter this threat alone, ”state the heads of state and government. “We believe that nations should work together to develop a new international treaty for preparing for and responding to pandemics.”
The treaty would call for better warning systems, data sharing, research, and the manufacture and distribution of vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and personal protective equipment.
“At a time when Covid-19 has taken advantage of our weaknesses and divisions, we must seize this opportunity and unite as a global community for peaceful cooperation that goes beyond this crisis,” write the heads of state and government. “Building our capacities and systems to achieve this will take time and will require sustained political, financial and social commitment over many years.”
However, the article is not clear about what would happen if a country chooses not to cooperate fully or to delay exchanges of scientific information, as China has been accused of cooperating with WHO
At least so far, China has not signed the letter. Neither does the United States.
At a press conference in Geneva on Tuesday, the Director General of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said that “all member states will be represented” at the start of the treaty discussions.
When asked if the leaders of China, the United States and Russia had been asked to sign the letter, he said that some leaders had decided to sign up.
“The comments from member states, including the US and China, have actually been positive,” he said. “The next steps will be to involve all countries and that is normal,” he added. “I don’t want it to be seen as a problem.”
In addition to European countries and the WHO, nations in Africa, Asia and Latin America were also among those who signed the letter.