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Policy & Global Development

The International Pandemic Treaty: What is at Stake?

Series | COVID-19 and response strategy #48


[This document is one of a series of discussion notes addressing fundamental questions about global health. Its purpose is to transfer scientific knowledge into the public conversation and the decision-making process. These documents are based on the best information available and may be updated as new information comes to light].


The international community is aware that there will be new pandemics and major health emergencies at one time or another. Hence the need for an international treaty to lay the foundations for a joint and organized response to a crisis such as the one experienced with COVID-19. This treaty, which is already beginning to be negotiated, should give priority to the public interest and the balance between the different nations, and guarantee universal and equitable access to diagnostics, vaccines and treatments

Our new policy brief examines this reform of international health management that is beginning to be discussed. Germán Velásquez, special advisor on policy and health for The South Centre intergovernmental organisation in Geneva, Switzerland, addresses in this paper the fundamental reform he believes the World Health Organization (WHO) needs to address and manage future pandemics.“No international treaty will succeed while the WHO continues to be economically and politically weak”, writes Velásquez.