A Joint Letter to all WHO Member States: Now is the time to agree on a pandemic accord which safeguards everyone from pandemic threats

Access to countermeasures, finance, and independent monitoring are essential for success

Signed by Former Co-Chairs and Members of The Independent Panel, the Chair and Members of The Elders, principals of the Panel for a Global Public Health Convention, Pandemic Action Network and Spark Street Advisors

As eyes now focus on the Geneva processes to negotiate a pandemic accord and amend the International Health Regulations, we encourage WHO Member States to take this historic opportunity and successfully conclude these processes to the benefit of all people.

We consider a strong international system for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response to be a global good.

A negotiating text of the accord is due October 16th. We recommend that the text find a balance which, together with amended International Health Regulations, ensures that all countries will be equipped to prevent, to detect and alert, and be prepared for and be able to respond to pandemic threats while protecting lives, health systems, societies, and economies.

The accord and amended International Health Regulations should, together, provide the rules, roles, and responsibilities for all Member States and for the World Health Organization. At a time of ever-increasing global travel, elevated risks of outbreaks, including those associated with climate change, these instruments must provide mutual assurance to all countries that pandemic threats will be detected, reported, and rapidly responded to, in order to reduce the risk of future pandemics dramatically. Should a pandemic arise, all countries should have the means to mitigate the damage to people, societies, and economies.

Critical to success of the Geneva processes

  • Commitment to an equitable system which ensures pandemic countermeasures, including personal protective equipment, medical oxygen, diagnostic tests, vaccines, and treatments, are available to protect those who are most vulnerable to illness and death where and when they are needed. This will be essential to protect people, contain pathogens and mitigate their impacts.

    A business as usual, or charitable approach, will not achieve this. All regions will require ownership and control of the ability to research, develop, manufacture and distribute such countermeasures so that all countries can access them.  
  • Commitment to sufficient, sustainable preparedness and surge finance to ensure that all countries can implement their obligations and protect their populations.
  • Commitment to establishing an accountability mechanism, including fully independent monitoring, to ensure that Member States abide by their obligations. Such a mechanism should include positive incentives for compliance.

Member States of the World Health Organization have set a deadline of May 2024 to agree on a pandemic accord and amended International Health Regulations. The deadline is important, and so is agreeing on instruments which can do the job intended: ensuring that all people, in all countries, are protected from public health emergencies of international concern, pandemic threats, and pandemics.  

From today, Member States must also be on constant alert and support one another to identify and contain outbreaks of potential international concern, and abide by the existing International Health Regulations. 

The next pandemic threat won’t wait. 


The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and ResponseFormer Co-chairs and Members:
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Member, The Elders
The Right Honourable Helen Clark, and Member, The Elders
Mauricio Cárdenas
Michel Kazatchkine
Joanne Liu
David Miliband
Thoraya Obaid
Ernesto Zedillo, and Member, The Elders
Anders Nordström, Head of Secretariat

Mary Robinson, Chair, The Elders
Gro Harlem Brundtland, Member of The Elders
Nina Schwalbe, Principal, Spark Street Advisors
Dame Barbara Stocking, Chair, Panel for a Global Public Health Convention
Eloise Todd, Executive Director & Co-Founder, Pandemic Action Network 

For more information: 
The Independent Panel – Christine McNab: ChristineMcNab@gmail.com
The Elders –  Bekki Field – Bekki.Field@theelders.org
Pandemic Action Network – Courtney Morris: Courtney.Morris@pandemicactionnetwork.org

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