Here's why a WHO-led pandemic treaty is a terrible idea

David Thunder

The World Health Organisation has proposed that the international community negotiate and eventually ratify an international "accord" or "treaty" that would effectively consolidate the position of the WHO as the pre-eminent public authority responsible for guiding and coordinating international pandemic responses.

An international pandemic treaty may seem like a smart move to ensure better international coordination of pandemic prevention and mitigation. However, given the events of the past two and a half years, the less than exemplary role of global health leaders in those events, and the perennial dangers of centralised power and authority, the case against such a treaty is pretty compelling.

The WHO got the ball rolling with its decision on December 1, 2021 "to kickstart a global process to draft and negotiate a convention, agreement or other international instrument under the Constitution of the World Health Organization to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness and response." This was to be further developed on May 3 by a "Zero draft report of the Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies."

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