Threats of sanctions from Berlin ahead of talks in Geneva might alter support for pandemic treaty

From a glittering ceremony in Berlin this week, that saw the launch of the new WHO Hub for Pandemic and Epidemic Intelligence, WHO top boss Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, flanked by German Health Minister Jens Spahn, made unequivocal calls for sanctions for uncooperative states in the context of future health emergencies. Germany, WHO’s biggest funder, repeatedly asked China to cooperate on the investigations on the origins of SARS-CoV-2.

These first shots for sanctions rang out just as the intergovernmental Working Group on Strengthening WHO preparedness for and Response to Health Emergencies (WGPR) resumed discussions in Geneva this week (September 1-3).

We have noted earlier how the origins debate has been fueling discussions for a pandemic treaty. The call for sanctions in a such a clear manner, not only assumes that member states will agree on the need for a pandemic treaty, but also presupposes that the use of sanctions might get countries to cooperate on health security matters.

In this update, we review the progress in the discussions at the working group and what they potentially reveal about how this matter could evolve ahead of the Special Session of the World Health Assembly in November this year.

By the time this story went to print, the working group continued its deliberations on September 3, crucially addressing the question on the assessment of the benefit of the proposed pandemic treaty after considering the recommendations of the various committees and expert bodies.  

Diplomatic sources told Geneva Health Files that there continued to be a clear cleavage even within Bureau members of the working group on the need for a treaty.

Image credit: Photo by Pixabay from Pexels

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