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The United States and other countries opposed to the impending passage of a pandemic treaty have managed to delay the discussion. A draft text published today by the World Health Organization has postponed all decisions until November.
The draft decision that countries will discuss this week at the World Health Assembly signals that Washington’s strong opposition ultimately prevailed after difficult discussions among member countries, partly due to the reluctance of some other capitals to say they could not discuss a treaty in the middle of the pandemic.
The US opposition was proven last week by Vice President Kamala Harris when she said that while the Biden administration understands the intent of a treaty, it “believes we need to strengthen our foundations first”.
The new draft decision is supported by several countries, including the EU, the UK, the US, South Africa and Norway. A working group tasked with “Enhancing WHO preparedness and response to health emergencies” is said to take advantage of “developing a WHO convention, agreement or other international tool to prepare for and respond to pandemics” will evaluate.
Countries would then consider the group’s report at a special session of the World Health Assembly in November, which would focus solely on whether an intergovernmental process should be put in place to draft a treaty or whether another agreement would be better. Under the original proposal, this intergovernmental group would have started work immediately.
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