Pandemic Agreement Talks End Without Deal


Pandemic agreement talks end without deal

Geneva, (APP - UrduPoint / Pakistan Point News - 25th May, 2024) Negotiations on a landmark global agreement on handling future pandemics came to a close on Friday without finalising a deal, though countries voiced the desire to keep pushing for an accord.

Scarred by the devastation caused by Covid-19 -- which killed millions of people, shredded economies and crippled health systems -- countries have spent two years trying to hammer out binding commitments on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.

But the talks gathered momentum only in the last few weeks, as the fast-approaching deadline set for before next week's start of the World Health Organization's annual meeting of its 194 member states loomed.

"This is not a failure," WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said after the talks ended at the UN health agency's headquarters in Geneva.

He urged countries to see this as a "good opportunity to re-energise, to recalibrate and be even inspired and have even more commitment... to get where we would like to be".

"There should not be any regrets, because you have tried your best," he said.

The mandate of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) steering the talks expires at next week's World Health Assembly.

The INB must now report back to the Assembly on progress -- and ask what ministers want them to do next.

"We have come to the end of a roller-coaster ride," INB co-chair Roland Driece said as he closed the talks.

"We are not where we hoped we would be when we started this process but... we should finish this, for the sake of humanity," he said.

"We truly hope that the World Health Assembly next week... will take the right decisions to take this process forward... and that we will have a pandemic agreement -- because we need it," he said.

Amid arm-twisting, horse-trading and 3:00 am finishes in recent weeks, the talks had made progress but they could not overcome the remaining obstacles by Friday's deadline.

"It's clearly a pause. Most member states want to carry on and lock in the gains," an Asian diplomat in the talks told AFP, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"We're not yet there with the text we have on the table. People need time to adjust their positions. The big question is, what will it take for the north and the south to get to convergence? It needs time."