GENEVA (AA) – World Health Organization (WHO) member states have agreed to start developing the first draft of a legally-binding agreement designed to protect the world from future pandemics.
“Countries have delivered a clear message that the world must be better prepared, coordinated, and supported to protect all people, everywhere, from a repeat of COVID-19,” said Roland Driece, co-chair of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) Bureau.
In December last year, a WHO assembly special meeting agreed to negotiate an accord to forge a future global response to pandemic prevention and preparedness following the emergence of COVID-19.
In February, INB members began work on a draft and presented it to WHO member states in late November, aware that some countries worry that an accord could diminish national autonomy.
The US seeks to have binding and non-binding parts in the new accord.
“There will be some provisions that will be legally binding, and some will be non-legally binding. Exactly what article in the WHO Constitution this ends up falling under is not determined yet,” US Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto said at a press conference on Dec. 2 at the US Mission to the UN in Geneva.
The body agreed that the INB Bureau will develop the “zero draft,” or first attempt, of the pandemic accord to start negotiations at the fourth INB meeting, scheduled for Feb. 27, 2023.