NAIROBI, 31 March 2021 – More than 20 world leaders have called for a new global treaty to help the world prepare for future pandemics, according to a joint op-ed published by several newspapers.
Twenty-five heads of government and international agencies come together in the joint call for high-level political action to protect the world from future health crises.
Five African presidents – Kenya’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Rwanda’s Paul Kagame, Tunisia’s Kais Saied, Senegal’s Macky Sall, and South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa – are among the 25 signatories.
France’s Emmanuel Macron, the United Kingdom’s Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO) Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus are among the other signatories.
Admitting that the COVID-19 pandemic has posed the biggest challenge to the world since World War II, the leaders argue that a treaty similar to the one reached in the wake of World War II is needed to build cross-border cooperation.
“This includes greatly enhancing international cooperation to improve, for example, alert systems, data-sharing, research, and local, regional and global production and distribution of medical and public health countermeasures, such as vaccines, medicines, diagnostics, and personal protective equipment,” the op-ed reads in part.
The future treaty would include recognition of a “One Health” approach that connects the health of humans, animals, and our planet.
It should lead to more mutual accountability and shared responsibility, transparency, and cooperation within the international system and with its rules and norms.
“To achieve this, we will work with Heads of State and governments globally and all stakeholders, including civil society and the private sector. We are convinced that it is our responsibility, as leaders of nations and international institutions, to ensure that the world learns the lessons of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the op-ed adds.
The biggest responsibility of the treaty would be to ensure that countries are better prepared to predict, prevent, detect, assess and effectively respond to pandemics in a highly coordinated fashion.
The global leaders admit in the op-ed that COVID-19 “exploited our weaknesses and divisions”, arguing that one of the lessons learnt must be to “seize this opportunity and come together” as a global community for peaceful co-operation that extends beyond this crisis.
Remarkably, some of the key world leaders and leaders of international organizations who are not signatories to the initiative include the presidents of the United States, China, Canada, Russia, India, Brazil, Japan.
Also absent are leaders of The World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund.
Besides the leaders mentioned above, the op-ed is also signed by J. V. Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Fiji; Prayut Chan-o-cha, Prime Minister of Thailand; António Luís Santos da Costa, Prime Minister of Portugal; Mario Draghi, Prime Minister of Italy; Klaus Iohannis, and President of Romania.
The initiative has also earned the endorsement of Charles Michel, President of the European Council; Kyriakos Mitsotakis, Prime Minister of Greece; Moon Jae-in, President of the Republic of Korea; Sebastián Piñera, President of Chile; Carlos Alvarado Quesada, President of Costa Rica; Edi Rama, Prime Minister of Albania.
The other signatories include Keith Rowley, Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago; Mark Rutte, Prime Minister of the Netherlands; Pedro Sánchez, Prime Minister of Spain; Erna Solberg, Prime Minister of Norway; Aleksandar Vučić, President of Serbia; Joko Widodo, President of Indonesia; and Volodymyr Zelensky, President of Ukraine.