International Pandemic Accord

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that the international community was not sufficiently prepared for pandemics. The task now is to learn lessons from this pandemic to ensure that the international community is better prepared for future health crises and able to mount a swift and targeted response to an emerging pandemic.

The decision to draft an international Pandemic Accord was adopted at a World Health Assembly Special Session in December 2021 by the 194 member states of the World Health Organization (WHO), including Germany.

The international Pandemic Accord provides a unique opportunity to strengthen regional, national and global capacities so as to make infectious disease outbreaks less likely and, in particular, prevent them from spiralling into pandemics. These efforts require a treaty with clear-cut provisions that is binding under international law.

Negotiations to be concluded by May 2024

An Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) comprising the 194 WHO Member States was established for the purpose of drafting and negotiating the international Pandemic Accord. This means that its development process is led entirely by the WHO member states. The development process is coordinated by the INB Bureau that consists of delegates from the six WHO regions.

The public can access all of the INB’s documentation at its website Intergovernmental Negotiating Body ( Right from the outset, moreover, the development process has been based on inclusiveness - comprising, in addition to the INB meetings of the WHO member states, also several public hearings of non-State actors and technical presentations from experts.

The INB’s timeline envisages drafting the international Pandemic Accord in time for the 77th WHA in May 2024 and to submit it for consideration there.

Better prevention and response

The international Pandemic Accord is to include provisions covering pandemic prevention, preparedness and response to provide the Member States with guidance for action before and during a pandemic outbreak. Its specific aims are to strengthen the capacities for early detection, prevention and resilience in view of future pandemics and to lay down legally binding collective measures for the international community that are necessary for pandemic control.

The contents of the international Pandemic Accord is being discussed and laid down on an ongoing basis by the member states, among them Germany. Adopting the international Pandemic Accord and implementing the measures it includes will be incumbent on the individual member states that will decide in line with their national legislation. This is meant to reflect the political commitment of the international community to take joint action against the outbreak and spread of future pandemics.

The WHO Secretariat supports the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body, inter alia by hosting the INB meetings and involving other United Nations organisations as well as non-State actors. However, the WHO Secretariat does not determine any of the international Pandemic Accord's content, this is only for the WHO member states to stipulate.

International control of infectious diseases

The International Health Regulations provide the basis of international law that underlies the control of infectious disease at international level. To address the gaps uncovered by the COVID-19 pandemic, the 75th World Health Assembly in May 2022 decided to make targeted amendments to the International Health Regulations. A revised version is also to be drafted for submission at the 77th World Health Assembly in May 2024. This means that the revision of the International Health Regulations and the development of the international Pandemic Accord are taking place concurrently. Specifically, the international Pandemic Accord is to be developed in coherence with the International Health Regulations and is to complement them in the event of a pandemic.

Collective action and transparency

The EU is an initiator of the International Pandemic Accord, speaking with one voice on behalf of all of its 27 member states in the development process. In March 2022, a European Council decision granted the EU the negotiating mandate in matters falling within EU competence. The EU closely coordinates with all of its member states and feeds the positions a consensus was reached on into the international negotiations.

On behalf of the German Government, the Federal Ministry of Health coordinates the negotiating process together with the Federal Foreign Office. In addition, continuous open exchange with non-State actors takes place. Many diverse formats have already been implemented for this purpose, also in cooperation with the Global Health Hub Germany.

In developing the international Pandemic Accord, transparency, coherence and a binding character are central to the Federal Government. An international pandemic treaty can only be successful if it is properly embedded into the global health architecture and closes existing gaps long-term.

Last change: 20. December 2023
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