The world needs a global treaty for pandemics to protect states in the wake of Covid-19, akin to the settlement forged after the second world war, Boris Johnson and other world leaders have urged.
In a joint article published in newspapers across the world, leaders including the UK prime minister, the French president, Emmanuel Macron, and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, warn that a future global pandemic is an inevitability and that Covid has served as “a stark and painful reminder that nobody is safe until everyone is safe”.
Escalating international tensions over vaccine supplies have led to calls for countries to abandon isolationism and nationalism, and come together to make way for a new era founded on principles like solidarity and cooperation.
The call comes from 24 world leaders, alongside the head of the World Health Organization, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and will appear in newspapers including the Telegraph in the UK, Le Monde in France and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in Germany.
The leaders describe the pandemic as “the biggest challenge to the global community since the 1940s” and said that a settlement like the one formed after 1945 is needed to build cross-border cooperation before the next international health crisis.
In the joint article, they say: “At that time, following the devastation of two world wars, political leaders came together to forge the multilateral system. The aims were clear: to bring countries together, to dispel the temptations of isolationism and nationalism, and to address the challenges that could only be achieved together in the spirit of solidarity and cooperation, namely peace, prosperity, health and security.”
A treaty on pandemics “should lead to more mutual accountability and shared responsibility, transparency and cooperation within the international system and with its rules and norms”, the leaders go on.
Johnson has advocated for some time for a fresh and more collaborative global approach to pandemics. Lo scorso mese, he petitioned fellow G7 leaders to back the proposal, emphasising the need for better international health data-sharing.
It followed concerns that China withheld information and access from global health inspectors as they investigated the origins of Covid-19 and how the virus spread.
The G7, made up of the world’s leading industrial nations and of which Johnson is president this year, agreed to explore the idea and is to discuss it further at a summit in Cornwall in June.
Johnson has also led calls for richer nations to give surplus vaccine supplies to the UN-led Covax system for distributing vaccines to poorer countries. The G7 is also moving towards providing financial support for developing countries whose economies have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic.