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‘Do it’ or don’t block consensus, Tedros urges pandemic deal negotiators

Steve Solomon, Chief Legal Officer of WHO, co-chairs Precious Matsoso and Roland Driece, and Jaouad Mahjour, Head of the WHO Secretariat of the intergovernmental negotiating body.

“Do this” – and if you don’t agree, don’t block consensus, was the heartfelt appeal made by the Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyessus, to member states negotiating a pandemic agreement on Friday (May 3).

Tedros was talking about “stocktaking” in the middle of the latest 10-day meeting of the intergovernmental negotiating body (INB), and it was clear that member states were nowhere near the end.

“They are here for the same reason this organization was created in the first place: because global threats demand a global response,” Tedros said.

“I appreciate that all of you are making concessions that you didn’t want to make. I appreciate that, article by article, paragraph by paragraph, word by word, they are converging on a consensus, even if they have not yet achieved it.

“I also understand that consensus does not mean unanimity. I recognize that there may be delegations that, despite their good faith efforts, may not be in a position to join a consensus, but they have a choice. “They can choose not to block consensus.”

Evoking “the people of the world,” including future generations, those struggling to survive and those mourning family members who died during COVID-19, Tedros said: “Please do this for them.”

Status of the Pandemic Agreement negotiations (May 3).

In stock, INB co-chairs told stakeholders that A revised text for Articles 4, 6, 10 and 19 has been distributed, and there is broad agreement on parts of Articles 4, 6 and 10.

The new text of Articles 13, 13bis, 14, 17 and 20 still needs to be distributed. In the meantime, Chapter 1 (definitions) and Chapter 3 have not yet been discussed.

However, at a press conference later on Friday, INB co-chairs said an agreement had been reached on Article 18, an innocuous communication article. However, they were cautious about giving specific details about the negotiations, noting that the countries “are trying to find each other.”

“Nothing is agreed still, but also nothing has state taken outside yet,” said co-chair Roland Drice, adding that negotiations became complex when trade issues arose.

“Is No rare, in fact is quite normal, that all ought come together almost in he last couple of days,” he added. “YOis standard negotiation practice that countries willpower only give above in that important for them when they see he whole image.”

Driece added: “In he situation that us would do No find consensus by he end of he week, wmy willpower report that to he World Health Assembly and is above to he World Health Assembly so to decide that ought be happening next.”

Matsoso concluded the briefing by warning: “The window of chance is closure, and once he close, he willpower be to omitted chance intergenerationally because there are new priorities and us I can’t to pay to miss this. Us can only but encourage countries to work toward finalize the agreement.”

Member states will meet in working groups on controversial articles for most of the weekend and then the 12-hour daily schedule will officially resume on Monday.

Next week’s program includes ending the entire text. Working groups will meet in the mornings to discuss “yellow” text, which indicates which areas are ready for discussion. In the afternoons, plenary sessions will be held to read and “green” this text. There is also time for work sessions and work groups in the afternoons.

Image credits: WHO, Nina Schwalbe.

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