The World Health Organization (WHO) concluded its meeting on March 3 to advance negotiations on global governance of the pandemic response. While the event did not go unnoticed in Canada, Republican politicians in the United States took a stand against the treaty, expressing concern about its impact on their country’s sovereignty in policy-making.
WHO states:zero draft1 February” as a basis for negotiations to create future international instruments to manage the pandemic.
While the draft sets out broad principles such as respect for human rights and a list of progressive themes, it also touches on issues such as controlling vaccines and fighting “misinformation”.
WHO’s intergovernmental negotiating body has begun consideration of the draft. 4th meeting (INB4), from February 27th to March 3rd.
Seventeen U.S. Republican senators were reacting and introducing legislation on Feb. 15 that would try to keep their country from reaching a final agreement.
Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said: “This failure should not be rewarded with a new international treaty that increases the power of the WHO at the expense of American sovereignty.”
This goes against the wishes of the Joe Biden administration, which held the presidential election. strategic dialogue We met with WHO in September and agreed to strengthen global capacity to respond to the pandemic.
The Canadian government also supports the development of a pandemic treaty under WHO.
Although the negotiated treaty is supposed to be legally binding, Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) To tell On its website, the WHO says it “has no jurisdiction in Canada, and Canada will continue to control future national decisions regarding national restrictions or other measures related to the pandemic.”
When asked about this potential conflict, PHAC spokeswoman Anna Maddison said Canada always considers potential implications for domestic law and policy when negotiating new international instruments. I was.
“The Canadian government will work to ensure that the development of new pandemic tools remains respectful of our health, social, economic and security situation,” she said.
So there are still gray areas on the issue of national sovereignty, which also appear in the Zero Draft.
The draft guiding principle on sovereignty states that states have the right to determine their own approach to public health in accordance with the rules of international law.
PHAC did not say whether there are specific areas of the draft that the Canadian government does not agree with, but only said INB4 is an opportunity to better understand the potential impacts on the country.
PHAC also did not address whether there are scenarios that would not support the Convention or Agreement.
“Canada supports the pandemic documentation and negotiation process and participates in all negotiations in good faith,” Madison said.
Conservative MP Leslyn Lewis has made a rare voice in Canada against a future treaty.
“Canada needs to be careful not to sign anything that could waive our sovereignty over health care, even with tremendous international pressure to do so in preparation for the pandemic. there is. I have written in September.
Other guiding principles in the draft include ‘respect for human rights’ and ‘transparency’.
In addition, several progressive policies, such as “fairness”, “inclusiveness”, “gender equality”, “non-discrimination and respect for diversity”, and “rights of individuals and groups in high-risk and vulnerable situations”. There are also themes.
Areas of the draft that may cause controversy focus on combating “false, misleading, misinformation or disinformation” and promoting vaccination.
Each party will “implement social listening and analysis on a regular basis to identify the prevalence and profiles of misinformation so that public communication and messaging can help combat misinformation, disinformation, and fake news.” contribute to designing a strategy and thereby strengthening public confidence,” the draft said. .
“Parties contribute to research and information on factors that impede adherence to public health and social measures, confidence in and uptake of vaccines, use of appropriate therapeutics, and trust in science and government agencies.”
While aiming to increase vaccine uptake by combating “misinformation,” the draft also ventures into the area of accountability for vaccination programs.
It proposes establishing a global compensation mechanism for vaccine-injured persons, and while this is pending, countries may introduce indefinite or excessive duration compensation clauses in contracts with manufacturers. We must try to avoid it.
The draft also recommends excluding confidentiality clauses.
This is Canada’s current problem, and opposition lawmakers want to see a multi-billion dollar deal between the federal government and vaccine manufacturers.
The liberal government has said it can only view unredacted contracts if members of Congress have signed non-disclosure agreements.
Liberal MP Anthony Hausfather, secretary to the Minister of Public Services and Procurement, said on February 16, “Because the government signed the deal on unfavorable terms early in the pandemic when everyone was desperate for a vaccine. It is,” he explained. “
“That’s why these companies said, ‘If we’re going to bring you this product that we haven’t tested in the normal way, we want it to be in a different state,'” he said.
Gain of function research
The draft also recommends increased oversight of laboratories conducting gain-of-function research.
“Each Party should, as appropriate, internationally approve laboratories and research facilities that carry out work on genetically manipulating organisms to increase their virulence and transmissibility in order to prevent the accidental release of these pathogens. Implement, apply, supervise and report on standards.”
Several evidence suggest The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 may be the result of gain-of-function research. Organizations such as the FBI and the US Department of Energy have assessed that the virus originated from the Wuhan Institute of Virology in China.
Other U.S. intelligence agencies Rated The first SARS-CoV-2 infections were caused by natural exposure to infected animals.
The INB’s next meeting is scheduled for April, and WHO is aiming for an agreement in 2024.
Kevin Stocklin contributed to this report.