Consultations on a New International Pandemic Agreement

The FNIH and the O’Neill Institute convened high-level meetings to inform the World Health Organization (WHO) and global community on a treaty or other instrument on pandemic preparedness.


At an historic special session in December 2021, the World Health Assembly resolved to negotiate an international agreement on pandemic preparedness and response. The FNIH and Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, a WHO Collaborating Center, convened dozens of leading experts from across the world to inform and support the special session by examining Legal Tools for Pandemic Preparedness. The report highlighted the weaknesses and persisting gaps in global pandemic preparedness and what a new international agreement or instrument might include to address them.

In mid-2022, the FNIH and O’Neill Institute organized a second global expert convening on the National Sovereignty Implications of a Pandemic Instrument. The report provided insight into the range of international agreements that have been successfully deployed to coordinate international activity, the kinds of binding and non-binding elements that have been mobilized, and their impact on national sovereignty. This technical consultation was organized to rapidly respond to a WHO Secretariat request ahead of a key summit to consider the constitutional provision under which the pandemic agreement will be concluded.

On 16-17 January 2023, the FNIH, O’Neill Institute, and UNAIDS are convening a third expert meeting to examine Equity Models for a Pandemic Agreement. This will consider existing models in global health law that assert equity as a priority and analyze them for possible inclusion in a new instrument.

The project leaders have published a series of supporting academic papers in prominent journals including The Lancet, the Journal of the American Medical Association, and Think Global Health of the Council on Foreign Relations. The partners also provide technical assistance to the WHO Regional Office in Africa to promote equitable participation in the discussions.

General Assembly
Photo by US Mission Geneva/Eric Bridiers



WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus’ opening remarks to the FNIH-O’Neill High Level Meeting on September 8, 2021.

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a catastrophic collapse of global solidarity at every level. This is the most important moment in global health for generations, and out of this crisis must come innovative solutions. The O'Neill Institute takes great pride in partnering with FNIH to develop a report that supports WHO and member states in discussions of a potential pandemic agreement. A global and collaborative effort, our report reflects recommendations for better preparedness built off of diverse perspectives. As a WHO collaborating center, we will do everything we can to support decision makers in ensuring the future of global health security."

Lawrence O. Gostin, Director
O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law



STAT News (August 3, 2022) Inching closer to an essential global pandemic treaty by Lawrence O. Gostin, Kevin A. Klock and Sam F. Halabi

Think Global Health (July 13, 2022): What Nations Owe Each Other Before the Next Pandemic by Lawrence O. Gostin, Kevin A. Klock, Sam F. Halabi, Katie Gottschalk, Katherine Ginsbach, and Kashish Aneja

Think Global Health (June 1, 2022): At Long Last, Member States Agree to Fix the World Health Organization's Financing Problem by Kevin A. Klock, Alexandra Finch, Eric A. Friedman, and Lawrence O. Gostin

The Lancet (March 23, 2022): Financing the Future of WHO by Lawrence O Gostin, Kevin A Klock, Helen Clark, Fatimatou Zahra Diop, Dayanath Jayasuriya, Jemilah Mahmood, Attiya Waris

Africa Health (January 2022): Going Global, Acting Local: The International Pandemic Agreement by Kevin A. Klock, Lawrence O. Gostin, and Sam F. Halabi

World Health Organization (December 1, 2021): The World Together: World Health Assembly Resolution on the Establishment of an Intergovernmental Negotiating Body to Strengthen Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness, and Response 

Think Global Health (November 28, 2021): No Future But A Shared Future by Lawrence O. Gostin, Kevin A. Klock, Sam F. Halabi, Katie Gottschalk, and Katherine Ginsbach

JAMA Network (September 15, 2021): An International Agreement on Pandemic Prevention and Preparedness by Lawrence O. Gostin, Sam F. Halabi, and Kevin A. Klock

O'Neill Institute Blog (September 14, 2021): Toward a Pandemic Agreement: WHO Collaborating Center Support for a New Mechanism

JAMA Network (August 31, 2021): Strengthening Global Health Security and Reforming the International Health Regulations by Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken and Secretary of Health and Human Services Xavier Becerra

World Health Organization (May 31, 2021): World Health Assembly Resolution to hold a Special Session to Consider Developing a WHO Convention

World Health Organization (May 31, 2021): WHO Director-General’s Closing Remarks at the World Health Assembly

Kevin A. Klock (2013): The Soft Law Alternative to the WHO's Treaty Powers

FNIH Contacts

*The views expressed in these materials are those of the respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the FNIH.