The proposal for a global treaty specifically addressing pandemic preparedness and response was first put forth by the President of the European Council in December 2020. It was subsequently supported by 26 heads of state and government, as well as the WHO Director-General in March 2021. The leaders stated in a joint commentary that “the main goal of this treaty would be to foster an all-of-government and all-of-society approach, strengthening national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics.” If eventually concluded, this would become the second global health treaty adopted under the auspices of WHO, following the adoption of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) in 2003.


The proposal raises a number of interrelated questions regarding form, content and process. WHO Member States will discuss a spectrum of options regarding form, from a relatively detailed ‘treaty’ or a framework convention, from a non-binding to legally-binding instrument (or mix of binding and non-binding elements). Discussions regarding its content touch upon the range and depth of issues that should be within its scope. Also under debate is the question of how any eventual instrument will relate to the International Health Regulations (IHR 2005) in terms of subject matter, legal and institutional arrangements. Finally, discussions are ongoing regarding process, for example, whether such an instrument should be negotiated under the auspices of the WHO or another intergovernmental organization, and what should be the roles of states and non-state actors such as civil society, experts and the private sector.


At the 74th World Health Assembly in May 2021, Member States agreed to hold a special session in November 2021 to discuss “the benefits of developing a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic preparedness and response” with a view towards the establishment of an intergovernmental process to draft and negotiate such an instrument. Various stakeholders are currently engaging in internal and external discussions on the instrument’s possible form, content and process. The Assembly established a Member State Working Group to report to the special session of the WHA with its findings, with a “bureau” comprised of one country from each of the six WHO regions: Botswana, France, Indonesia, Iraq, Singapore and the United States. The Working Group held its first meeting on 15-16 July 2021 to discuss modalities of the process, and is scheduled to meet periodically in the months leading up to November, when governments are scheduled to decide on how to move ahead.

The Global Health Centre has organized briefings and published a series of articles, working papers and briefing materials on the main issues revolving around the proposed pandemic treaty, available on this page. The treaty proposal has also spurred a range of comments and analysis, available below, with updates to be added as new materials become available.


In order to provide a platform and a safe space for discussion to key negotiators, the Global Health Centre organized a series of briefings in May 2021 to explore options for a global pandemic treaty with representatives of governments from permanent missions in Geneva and capitals. The proposed pandemic treaty would represent the second global health treaty to be negotiated at the World Health Organization, after the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) adopted in May 2003. Countries’ representatives in Geneva and the capitals are expected to participate in negotiations if a formal process for a treaty is eventually launched. However, the majority of them were not involved in FCTC negotiations, and much knowledge has been lost about a treaty process at the WHO. The sessions lead by the Global Health Centre aimed to provide key negotiators with briefings, analysis, and opportunities to interact on key aspects of a possible pandemic treaty before the start of formal discussions at the 74th World Health Assembly.

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Policy Brief: Factors contributing to treaty effectiveness: implications for a possible pandemic treaty, McInerney TF




Policy Brief: Experiences from environmental treaty negotiations, Kummer Peiry K




Briefing Note on Social and Economic Response to the Covid-19 Pandemic,

Liu A




Briefing note on international treaty features potentially applicable to a future pandemic treaty, Kummer Peiry K



A World in Disorder. Global Preparedness Monitoring Board Annual Report 2020

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Report of the Review Committee on the Functioning of the International Health Regulations (2005) during the COVID-19 response


COVID-19: Make it the last pandemic, Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response


WHA74/Strategic Briefing: The time to act is now: Preparing for the next pandemic today

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COVID-19 shows why united action is needed for more robust international health architecture

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GPMB Statement ahead of the 74th World Health Assembly

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Independent Oversight and Advisory Committee for the WHO Health Emergencies Programme



The case for an international pandemic treaty: A treaty would protect lives, livelihoods, security, and human rights, Nikogosian H and Kickbusch I


A global pandemic treaty should aim for deep prevention, Vinuales J, Moon S et al.


Preparing international cooperation on pandemic prevention for the Anthropocene, Carlson CJ, Albery GF et al.


Independent Review and Investigation Mechanisms to Prevent Future Pandemics: A Proposed Way Forward, Lehtimaki S, Reidy A et al.

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A pandemic treaty: Where are we now that the leaders have spoken?, Nikogosian H and Kickbusch I

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 What should we ask of a new global treaty for pandemic preparedness?, Lopes H and Middleton J


A global public health convention for the 21st century, Duff J, Liu A et al.


Pandemic preparedness in the 21st century: which way forward?, Khor SK and Heymann DL


A pandemic treaty for a fragmented global polity, Moon S and Kickbusch I

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An international pandemic treaty must centre on human rights, Davis SM et al.

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Envisioning an international normative framework for pandemic preparedness and response: Issues, instruments and options, Burci GL, Moon S et al.


Post-covid reforms: Can we avoid fighting the last war? Bezruki A and Moon S


Preparing for the next pandemic, Wenham C, Kavanagh M et al.

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An international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response is an urgent necessity, Mehdi F, Nur FA et al.

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How would a pandemic treaty relate with the existing IHR (2005)?, Nikogosian H and Kickbusch I


Will a global preparedness treaty help or hinder pandemic preparedness? Frieden RT and Buissonnière M


Pandemic treaty needs to start with rethinking the paradigm of global health security, Fukuda-Parr S, Buss P et al.


Proposal for a WHO treaty on pandemics raises concerns, Ramakrishnan N and Gopakumar KM

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What is the missing ingredient in global pandemic preparedness and response?, Tedros AG

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Confronting future pandemics: What could a new treaty resolve beyond the IHR?, Nikogosian H, Kickbusch I


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A global pandemic treaty won't work until leaders realise the benefits of solidarity, Wenham C

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A new WHO international treaty on pandemic preparedness and response: Can it address the needs of the global south?, Velásquez G and Syam N


Does the world need another international treaty to deal with future pandemics?, Cook M


A pandemic treaty? Opening the door to the reform of global health security, Patnaik P


Global Health Is In Disarray – But Is A Pandemic Treaty The Way Out?, Vijay SL


How A New International Pandemic Treaty Can Prevent the Next Big One, Goldberg MG


Joint statement by UHC2030 Co-Chairs and the UHC Movement Political Advisory Panel, Barron GC, Koonin J et al.


Preparing for Future Pandemics Means Improving and Reforming -- Not Abandoning -- the WHO, Sofaer AD


Strengthening Global Health Security and Reforming the International Health Regulations, Blinken AJ and Becerra X 


The Pandemic Treaty as a Framework for Global Solidarity: Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations in Global Health Governance, Mason Meier B, Bueno de Mesquita J et al.


The politics and promise behind a proposed pandemic treaty, Tomlinson C


The world must learn from COVID before diving into a pandemic treaty


WHO: Should Members Pursue a Pandemic Treaty, In the Midst of a Global Pandemic?, Ramakrishnan N, Gopakumar K et al.


Why the rush? A call for critical reflection on the legal and human rights implications of a potential new international treaty on pandemics, Behrendt S, Müller A