Countries of the World Health Organization (WHO) have moved forward negotiations on a global accord on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, with a view to presenting a draft accord to the World Health Assembly in May 2024.
Ending yesterday, discussions on the draft pandemic accord took place during the five-day resumed session of the fifth meeting of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), which includes WHO’s 194 member countries.
Discussions were based on the text prepared by the Bureau of the INB and distributed to all WHO’s Member States in May 2023 (the “Bureau’s text”), first through an open plenary session where Member States and relevant stakeholders provided their general comments, followed by a closed session in the Drafting Group.
The Drafting Group discussed Chapter II, addressing Articles 9 (Research and development), 10 (Liability risk management), 11 (Co-development and transfer of technology and know-how), 12 (Access and benefit-sharing), 13 (Supply chain and logistics), and 14 (Regulatory strengthening), where participants engaged and exchanged views.
The meeting then agreed to continue consideration of several of these articles through informal meetings of the Drafting Group. As a pilot, informal meetings on Article 9 (Research and development) of the Bureau’s text were held twice on the sidelines of the Drafting Group meeting.
The INB agreed to a series of intersessional informal meetings for Drafting Group participants in advance of the sixth meeting of the INB:
- Article 9 (Research and development)
- Article 12 (Access and benefit-sharing)
- Article 13 (Supply chain and logistics)
The sixth meeting of the INB will be held from 17–21 July 2023 and the Drafting Group will be invited to continue its work with consideration of the Bureau’s text, continuing with the remaining articles of Chapter II and thereafter Chapters III and I.
It was noted that a joint plenary session of the INB and the Working Group on Amendments to the International Health Regulations (WGIHR) would be held on the afternoon of 21 July and morning of 24 July 2023.
Mr Roland Driece, Co-Chair of the INB Bureau, from the Netherlands, said: “Countries from all parts of the world were able to discuss their ideas, concerns and suggestions for consensus in a wide-ranging forum for everyone to hear and consider. We are grateful for the spirit of collaboration and forging consensus that we witnessed during the interactive informal meetings of the Drafting Group.”
INB Bureau Co-Chair, Ms Precious Matsoso of South Africa, said: “There was an excellent spirit of collaboration amongst the countries’ representatives. When there are 194 countries sharing their views, it will, of course, take time and much discussion to come to agreement on the many important issues concerning pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. I am confident that we now have the working arrangements in place to do so.”
According to the process agreed by governments at a special session of the World Health Assembly in late 2021, negotiations on the draft pandemic accord will aim to produce a final draft for consideration in 2024.