Helen Clark, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf welcome UNGA resolution calling for a high-level meeting for Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response

Co-Chairs of the Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response say UNGA political declaration is required to help bring necessary cohesion to system transformation 

2 September 2022

We welcome the resolution adopted by Member States at the United Nations General Assembly today, calling for a high-level meeting on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. 

The Independent Panel for Pandemic Preparedness and Response, which we co-chaired, recommended that such a meeting be held to agree a political declaration which would provide force and momentum to global efforts to transform the current system which allowed SARS-CoV-2 to become a devastating pandemic

In our main report, COVID-19: Make it the Last Pandemic, we stressed that the international system for pandemic preparedness and response requires fundamental transformation, catalysed by political leadership at the highest level.

We were clear that a lack of coordinated political leadership globally had resulted in failures of governments to secure agreements in support of common goals to tackle the health, social, and economic challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

We also stressed that pandemic threats can be managed only through coordinated, multilateral, multisectoral, whole-of-government, and whole-of-society approaches.  Today’s resolution (A/76/L.76), co-sponsored by 129 countries, acknowledges this imperative.

The UNGA resolution calls for a high-level meeting no later than the end of the general debate (what is commonly called ‘high-level week’) of the 78th General Assembly in September 2023. We recognize the need for complementarity with other pandemic preparedness and response processes, including those in Geneva.

Since the release of our main report in May 2021, countries have made important progress towards implementing elements of the package of reforms which we deemed essential to thwart the next pandemic threat. This includes actions to establish a pandemic fund; to strengthen WHO including through increased, sustained, non-earmarked funding, through a pathway for amendments to the International Health Regulations, and negotiation of a potential new pandemic legal instrument; and to establish regional manufacturing of pandemic countermeasures.  We have warned however that these reforms are moving slowly, and not in a cohesive enough manner. 

It will be up to Member States to determine the contents of the political declaration resulting from the high-level meeting.

But we believe one essential outcome is the establishment of a high-level, multisectoral, council that ensures sustained momentum for pandemic preparedness, led by Heads of State and Government, and inclusive of civil society and the private sector, coordinating closely with the UN Secretary General, the World Health Organization, and other relevant international entities. Such a council has been successively recommended by a Lancet Commission in 2014; by a high-level review of the Ebola response in 2016, established by the UN Secretary General and led by former President Kikwete of Tanzania; and by the Independent Panel. 

We believe that the establishment of such a council is long overdue and urge Member States to prioritise this as an outcome of the high-level meeting.

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