Michel proposes international treaty on pandemics within WHO

He delivered a video message at the Special Session of the UN General Assembly in response to the COVID-19

Photo: EU Charles Michel.

Charles Michel, President of the European Council, proposed on Thursday an international treaty on pandemics within the framework of the World Health Organization, while participating by video message in the Special Session of the UN General Assembly in response to the COVID-19 pandemic on 3 and 4 December.

The number of epidemics has multiplied in recent decades, and we knew the world was not immune to a major pandemic, he said. "Yet, we were caught off guard. This is a form of failure, and we will have to learn the lessons and draw the conclusions from it."

When confronted with future pandemics, an international treaty, anchored in collective mobilisation and solidarity, would enable the international community to better anticipate, prepare for and manage future pandemics. The success of this collective action has been demonstrated in developing safe and effective vaccines in record time.

According to Michel, risk monitoring, better financing and coordination of research, a more efficient system of alerts and information sharing, improving access to healthcare, are among the areas such a treaty could address. He also focused on resilience through strengthening healthcare systems and securing supply chains.

"The objective is to do better. To do better in all areas where we recognise it is in our interest to strengthen cooperation."

In his conversation with the Director-General of the WHO, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, President Michel reaffirmed that the WHO is the cornerstone of international cooperation against pandemics. This treaty would complement and reinforce their efforts. The President of the European Council is also sending letters to all G20 and G7 leaders to present his proposal. Other relevant international organisations and agencies should also be involved in this process.


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