Canada's role in the development of an international pandemic instrument
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- Pandemic instrument
- Role of the World Health Organization
- Other public health emergency tools and strategies
Canada is working closely with other countries and international partners to strengthen global pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. This includes the development of a new World Health Organization (WHO) convention, agreement or international instrument, sometimes called a:
- pandemic treaty
- pandemic accord
- pandemic instrument
In December 2021, the 194 World Health Organization (WHO) Member States, including Canada, agreed to launch an intergovernmental negotiating body to develop a pandemic instrument. The instrument will strengthen and coordinate national and international efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to pandemics.
The development of a new pandemic instrument is expected to take until at least 2024. A progress report will be presented at the 76th World Health Assembly in May 2023.
A pandemic instrument can help nations avoid and reduce the devastating health, social and economic consequences of a potential future pandemic. Canada supports the development of a pandemic instrument to:
- improve global cooperation
- strengthen collective action and accountability
- address gaps in pandemic prevention, preparedness and response
The Government of Canada is working with partners to ensure that Canadian priorities and values are reflected in the pandemic instrument. These partners include:
- private sector
- academic experts
- Indigenous organizations
- civil society organizations
- provincial and territorial governments
Role of the World Health Organization
Canada is a strong supporter of the World Health Organization and engages with them to:
- share our expertise
- advance domestic and global health priorities
- prevent, detect and respond to global health emergencies
- protect the health of people living in Canada and around the world
The World Health Organization provides a unique international venue to convene discussions to strengthen the global health architecture. The World Health Organization Secretariat supports the intergovernmental negotiating body by offering technical and legal guidance and scientific advice. However, the countries themselves will fully lead the process to develop a pandemic instrument and decide on its content.
The World Health Organization has no jurisdiction in Canada, and Canada will remain in control of any future domestic decisions about national restrictions or other measures related to pandemics. When negotiating a new international instrument, the Government of Canada will always carefully consider:
- its potential impact on our domestic laws and policies
- if there is a need for a domestic legislation to implement our international obligations
Other public health emergency tools and strategies
The new pandemic instrument will be one tool among others to improve how the world prevents, prepares for, and responds to future international health emergencies.
In the World Health Organization context, countries are also working to strengthen the International Health Regulations (IHR) (2005), an international instrument that is legally binding on 196 countries, including Canada. The IHR (2005), which came into force in 2007, require countries to work together for global health security. They are focused on addressing serious public health threats that have the potential to spread beyond a country's borders to other parts of the world. Through the IHR (2005), countries have agreed to detect, assess, report on, and respond to public health events, and strengthen capacities to do so. While the IHR (2005) focuses on detection and response to international health emergencies more broadly, the pandemic instrument will aim to strengthen prevention, preparedness and response actions specifically for pandemics using a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach.
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