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, citing the desire “for a comprehensive and coherent approach to strengthen the global health architecture” using “a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach, prioritizing the need for equity.” The FNIH and Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, a WHO Collaborating Center, has convened dozens of leading experts representing every WHO region in disciplines as diverse as global health, law, human rights, biomedical science, financial services, civil society, humanitarian aid, charitable fundraising, government, patient advocacy, academia, and health equity to provide technical advice and learnings to inform WHO, policymakers, member states, and the public as the treaty is negotiated.

The first expert convening in 2021 examined Legal Tools for Pandemic Preparedness. Opened by WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the meeting reviewed the weaknesses and persisting gaps in global pandemic preparedness and considered what a new international agreement or instrument might include to address them.

The second consortium, organized in 2022, analyzed the National Sovereignty Implications of a Pandemic Instrument. The convening 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.

In 2023, UNAIDS joined the FNIH and the O’Neill Institute to organize an expert gathering to examine Equity Models for a Pandemic Agreement. With a new message from Dr. Tedros and WHO Intergovernmental Negotiating Body Co-Chair Precious Matsoso participating as a distinguished contributor, the meeting considered existing models in global health that assert equity as a priority and considered how they might be incorporated.

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


National Sovereignty

Legal Tools



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



World Health Organization (February 2023) Advancing a World Together Equitably

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.