July 14, 2022

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On 1 December 2021, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution establishing an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) to determine the content and form of a new pandemic agreement. Consultations over the course of the first half of 2022 have given rise to questions from Member States as to the content and form of a new instrument. During the INB’s first public hearings:

There were different views expressed in terms of the overall future governance mechanism of a new international instrument. Some participants advocated for the instrument to be non-binding and advisory in nature and for individual countries to be able to implement their own policies in order to respect national sovereignty. Other speakers stressed that nationalism should be prevented, with steps taken to monitor and enforce national compliance to the international instrument.

This means that the INB and country decision-makers will need to grapple with how the principle of national sovereignty, and the accompanying principle of non-interference, will be addressed with respect to the agreement’s content and form, including obligations to share data, resources, and personnel, and to relinquish control over certain aspects of national coordination and response. The INB will have to find a balanced path that contains meaningful norms and compliance while still respecting national sovereignty.

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