HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Case Western Reserve University School of Law

Sunday, October 2, 2022

What Nations Owe Each Other Before the Next Pandemic

Lawrence O. Gostin (Georgetown University), Kevin A. Klock (National Institutes of Health), Sam Halabi (O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law), Katie Gottschalk (O'Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law), Katherine Ginsbach (Georgetown University), Kashish Aneja (Georgetown University), What Nations Owe Each Other Before the Next Pandemic, Geo. L. Fac. Publ’n & Other Works 2461 (2022):

On December 1, 2021, the World Health Assembly adopted a resolution establishing an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) to determine the content and form of a new pandemic agreement. A portion of the public has advocated for a non-binding agreement while others stress that nationalism should be prevented, with steps taken to monitor and enforce national compliance. The INB has needed to grapple with how the principle of national sovereignty, and the accompanying principle of non-interference, will be addressed with respect to the agreement’s content and form, including obligations to share data, resources, and personnel, and to relinquish control over certain aspects of national coordination and response. To provide technical assistance to the World Health Organization (WHO), INB, and the public concerning this challenge, the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, a WHO Collaborating Center, and the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH) convened leading authorities from every WHO region on international agreements in trade, regional integration, public health emergency preparedness, finance, biomedical science, climate change, maritime affairs, tobacco control, and human rights. Through a series of written, bilateral, and group discussions, we sought to provide the INB with a learned analysis of the stringency and stickiness of international commitments and the often nonobvious relationship between norm-setting and regime compliance to inform its dialogue. This paper is a condensed version of the outcomes of those discussions, which have utility for contemplating any new agreement under international law. The full report, National Sovereignty Implications of a Pandemic Instrument can be found at the O'Neil Institute website.

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