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Stakeholders were consulted about negotiations on WHO pandemic treaty

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 26.4.2023 14.08
Press release
WHO:n lippu

Finland is participating in the drafting of a new global pandemic treaty. Finland’s goal is for the treaty to improve global health security. However, Finland stresses the responsibility of states for their own health security and related preparedness.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health organised a stakeholder event on 24 April to discuss the future WHO pandemic treaty and the proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR). Both instruments aim to improve global pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. The instruments are set to be completed in May 2024.

The International Health Regulations constitute an existing legal instrument on cross-border health threats, and discussions on the proposed amendments to the different articles of these Regulations are currently underway. The Regulations were last revised in 2005. The aim of the proposed amendments is to strengthen the Regulations and their implementation.

The negotiations on the pandemic treaty started in February 2022. The first draft of the treaty, known as the ‘zero draft’, was completed in February this year. The negotiations on this draft started in late February–early March, and they were concluded at the beginning of April. During the negotiations, the text of the draft was discussed line by line and WHO Member States proposed amendments to it. 

Aim is to reach a common consensus over different views

A lot of amendments were proposed to the draft pandemic treaty, as a result of which the draft grew from 30 to over 100 pages. The secretariat and co-chairs of the intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) will compile the next working draft based on the proposals received. This draft will then be used as a basis for negotiations in June.

“In June, the purpose is to discuss in more detail what different Member States expect from treaty articles. Their views differ greatly from each other in some respects, and the aim is therefore to reach a common consensus,” says Legal Adviser Jenna Uusitalo.

“In Finland’s view, states must continue to bear responsibility for their own health security preparedness and readiness. Effective pandemic preparedness and readiness require a crisis-resilient healthcare system and well-functioning primary healthcare, for example. Our goal is that the pandemic treaty will genuinely improve global health security. We also want to ensure that the treaty will not include matters on which provisions are laid down somewhere else, for example, in the International Health Regulations.

Parliament is kept informed of different stages of negotiations

Parliament is kept informed of the different stages of the negotiations. Most recently in February, a Union communication was submitted to Parliament to provide information on the first draft of the treaty, the IHR process and Finland’s negotiating objectives. The Union communication is currently being considered by the Grand Committee, which has the opportunity to issue a statement on the matter.

The stakeholder event focused on the first draft of the treaty. There was a lot of discussion on, for example, global justice, Finland’s negotiating objectives and stakeholders’ involvement in the process. The event was attended by representatives of central government and non-governmental organisations.

Inquiries:

Jenna Uusitalo, Legal Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 152, jenna.uusitalo(at)gov.fi (after 1 May)
Kaisa Lähdepuro, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 163 419, [email protected] 

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