Department Of Health
Like my German colleagues and Indonesia mentioned it let me underscore our solidarity with the state and people of Israel following the horrific Hamas terrorist attack of 7 October. Israel has every right to act in self-defence under international law and in accordance with International Humanitarian Law, and we have doubled aid to Gaza this year, providing another GBP 30 million in humanitarian aid, and have called for a humanitarian pause.
Nearly two years have passed since the World Health Assemblys historic decision to negotiate a new Pandemic Accord.
The global community has since reaffirmed its commitment to protect future generations from pandemic threats through the adoption of the first Political Declaration on Pandemic Prevention, Preparedness and Response at this years UN General Assembly.
However, the commitments in the declaration will not be enough to secure our collective health, security and prosperity in the face of future pandemic threats.
That is why the UK remains firmly committed to working with others to negotiate a legally binding Pandemic Accord, while respecting Member States sovereign right to make domestic decisions on national public health matters.
I would like to thank the Bureau and Secretariat for their huge efforts to prepare the Negotiating Text, which should be used as the basis for negotiations.
There are areas of the text the UK strongly supports and wants to strengthen further, such as on research and development, health systems, AMR, and prevention. We should aspire to a world in which most of this agreement is never needed, because we can prevent pandemic threats before they take hold.
There are also measures that the UK could not accept, such as waivers of intellectual property rights. Speaking as one of those Geneva Ambassadors who cover both the UN and the World Trade Organization, I need to reaffirm the UKs conviction that the World Trade Organization is the appropriate forum to discuss obligations on IP.
I would also stress that the UK recognises that we need to facilitate equitable access to safe, effective, quality-assured and affordable vaccines, therapeutics, diagnostics, and other medical countermeasures, especially in developing countries.
It is vital that the Accord leads to concrete improvements in our ability to tackle pandemic threats. We firmly believe we need more input in this process from civil society, the private sector and other experts who can help us to ensure that the Accord works for our citizens in practice.
Colleagues, we have six months left. All Member States will have priorities they want to see better reflected in the text and concerns about its feasibility. Achieving the step-change in the negotiation which we need in order to meet our deadline will only be possible if we begin text negotiations now, on the basis of the draft in front of us.
Lets ensure that, by May 2024, we have an agreement that delivers on the vital mission the World Health Assembly set: to stand together to tackle the threat of pandemics, rather than apart.