First Draft of Pandemic Accord Possible in April – But INB Won’t Commit to This
INB co-chair Precious Matsoso and WHO Director-General Tedros at the start of INB 4.

After spending the past week negotiating a proposed future pandemic accord in the intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) set up by the World Health Organization (WHO), member states will pick up discussions from 3 to 6 April.

Last week’s discussions were based on the zero draft developed by the INB’s Bureau after a series of meetings and public hearings during 2022 about the contents of the document aimed to guide and protect the world in the next pandemic.

During the closing session of Friday’s meeting, a number of delegates expressed the hope that it would be possible for the INB Bureau to develop a first draft of the accord after the April meeting, but the INB ultimately chose not to commit to this.

“The start of discussions of concrete language for the WHO pandemic accord sends a clear signal that countries of the world want to work together for a safer, healthier future where we are better prepared for, and able to prevent future pandemic threats, and respond to them effectively and equitably,” said Roland Driece, co-chair of the INB Bureau.

He noted at the start of last week’s fourth INB meeting that the April meeting would be taken as a continuation of the current meeting, the bulk of which was held in private.

Co-chair Precious Matsoso described the meeting, which ended last Friday, as “a critical step in ensuring we do not repeat the mistakes of the COVID-19 pandemic response, including in sharing life-saving vaccines, provision of information and development of local capacities”.

“That we have been able to move forward so decisively is testimony to the global consensus that exists on the need to work together and to strengthen WHO’s and the international community’s ability to protect the world from pandemic threats,’ Matsoso added.

The INB Bureau is to convene informal intercessional meetings between meetings to help facilitate agreements, but Matsoso urged delegates to have their own informal meetings before April to “iron out the wrinkles”.

A progress report on the accord will be given to the World Health Assembly in May, with the final draft due to be considered by the 77th World Health Assembly in 2024.

Also present at the INB meeting were the co-facilitators of the United Nations General Assembly High-Level Meeting on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response, set for 20 September.

The co-facilitators, Morocco and Israel’s ambassadors to the UN in New York, told INB members that they wanted to ensure that the INB process and the high-level meeting were in sync.

The co-facilitators also meet with the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO).

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