Canada's role in the development of an international pandemic agreement

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Pandemic Agreement

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:

In December 2021, the 194 WHO Member States, including Canada, agreed to launch an intergovernmental negotiating body to develop a pandemic agreement. The agreement will strengthen and coordinate national and international efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to pandemics.

The development of a new pandemic agreement is expected to take until at least 2024. A progress report was presented at the 76th World Health Assembly in May 2023.

A pandemic agreement 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 agreement to:

If you're interested in learning more about the process and development of the Pandemic Agreement, please visit the WHO webpage:

Pandemic prevention, preparedness and response accord – Q&A

Engagement with Canadian partners and stakeholders

Canada is taking a whole-of-government, whole-of-society approach in the development of the Pandemic Agreement to ensure that Canadian priorities and values are reflected. Canada's engagement strategy aims to facilitate meaningful and inclusive engagement with partners and stakeholders. These include:

Pandemic Instrument Partner and Stakeholder Engagement Forum Report

From March 21 to 22, 2023, the Office of International Affairs for the Health Portfolio hosted the Pandemic Instrument Partner and Stakeholder Engagement Forum. This forum facilitated conversations with Canadian partners and stakeholders to help ensure that Canadian priorities, objectives and values are reflected in the Pandemic Agreement (also known as the Pandemic Instrument). A report summarizing the discussions is available.

Pandemic Instrument Partner and Stakeholder Engagement Forum Report

This forum is just one element of Canada's engagement with domestic partners and stakeholders in supporting the development of the Pandemic Agreement. Opportunities for partner and stakeholder engagement will continue.

Role of the World Health Organization

Canada is a strong supporter of the WHO and engages with them to:

The WHO provides a unique international venue to convene discussions to strengthen the global health architecture. The WHO 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 agreement and decide on its content.

The WHO 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 agreement, the Government of Canada will always carefully consider:

Other public health emergency tools and strategies

The new Pandemic Agreement will be one tool among others to improve how the world prevents, prepares for, and responds to future international health emergencies.

In the WHO 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 Agreement 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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