Shattered: The Secret Talks That Led To The Collapse Of The WHO's Global Pandemic Treaty

By Maria Angelino | Tuesday, 28 May 2024 08:30 AM
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Image Credit : Photo by ORF Online

The World Health Organization's (WHO) chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, faced a significant setback on Friday when his proposed global pandemic treaty was rejected.

This decision followed two years of confidential discussions held in Geneva, Switzerland.

As reported by the Associated Press, Roland Driece, the co-chair of WHO's negotiating board for the agreement, admitted that the countries involved were unable to reach a consensus on a proposal. The WHO had anticipated that a final draft treaty could be agreed upon at its annual meeting of health ministers, which is set to commence on Monday in Geneva.

"We are not where we hoped we would be when we started this process," Driece confessed. He emphasized the importance of finalizing an international agreement on pandemic response "for the sake of humanity," despite numerous countries opposing the idea that unelected, unaccountable health bureaucrats should have the power to make significant global decisions on government policies.

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Earlier this month, U.S. Republican senators expressed their concerns to the Biden administration, arguing that the draft treaty focused on contentious issues such as "shredding intellectual property rights" and "supercharging the WHO." They implored President Biden not to endorse the treaty.

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Driece stated that the upcoming World Health Assembly would encourage participants to make "the right decisions to take this process forward" in hopes of eventually reaching a pandemic agreement. "Because we need it," he added.

On the final day of negotiations, a visibly disappointed Tedros insisted, "This is not a failure." He pledged, "We will try everything — believing that anything is possible — and make this happen because the world still needs a pandemic treaty." He further noted that many of the challenges that had a severe impact during the COVID-19 pandemic still persist.

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Despite the WHO's determination to proceed with the plan, the British department of health had previously stated that it would only agree to a treaty that respected British national interest and sovereignty.

The co-chairs of the treaty-drafting process did not specify what led to the stalemate. However, diplomats have indicated that significant differences remain over the sharing of information about emerging pathogens and the sharing of technologies to combat them, according to the AP report.

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Precious Matsoso, the other co-chair of WHO's negotiating board for the pandemic treaty, expressed optimism that an agreement could still be reached, and efforts would continue despite the failure to secure a deal on Friday. "We will make sure that this happens, because when the next pandemic hits, it will not spare us," she warned.

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