Global organizations’ statement repeats calls on the World Health Organization to ensure a Pandemic Treaty grounded in human rights law and standards

Member States of the WHO met over the last week to discuss the development of a Pandemic Treaty, committing to a process spanning between 2022-2024 and to hold public meetings to inform these deliberations. Today, alongside the undersigned organizations, the ICJ repeats calls on the World Health Organization to ensure a fully consultative process grounded in human rights law and standards.

As the World Health Assembly agrees to begin negotiations towards a Pandemic Treaty, the undersigned organizations reiterate the need for an open and consultative treaty drafting process that considers and applies the human rights lessons learned from past pandemics and most recently from COVID-19, and the serious human rights implications of states’ responses to health emergencies.

Health is a human right. From use of emergency powers and vaccine equity to the protection of marginalized groups and digital rights, the human rights and societal implications of a new, binding legal instrument on pandemics are potentially significant and far-reaching. It is critical that any such process build in from the outset core human rights standards as well as put in place negotiation processes that meaningfully involve communities, civil society, and human rights organizations.

Ahead of the WHA Special Session in November 2021, we welcomed the chance to share a set of Ten Human Rights Principles for a Pandemic Treaty with the Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies (WGPR) and member state mission representatives. We drafted the Principles to provide guidance to WHO Member States to incorporate human rights into the treaty negotiation agenda from the outset and establish clear mechanisms for meaningful civil society consultation.

We now call on WHO Member States to place human rights principles at the forefront of the development of the Pandemic Treaty and to promptly develop inclusive rules for the meaningful and effective participation of a wide range of civil society organizations and community groups, including those not in official relations with WHO, to support the negotiation of the Treaty.


Open Society Foundations (OSF)

Amnesty International

Harm Reduction International

Privacy International

Global Health Law Consortium’s Human Rights Working Group

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ)

African Policing Civilian Oversight Forum (APCOF)

World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT)

European Center For Not-For-Profit Law (ECNL)

International Center for Not-for-Profit Law (ICNL)

UNITE Global Parliamentarians Network to End Infectious Disease

Centre for Supporting Community Development Initiatives (SCDI)


Fundación Huésped

Pan African Lawyers Union (PALU)

Helsinki Foundation for Human Rights

Fair Trials


For more information:

Pandemic Treaty Principles (Working Draft)

Ten Human Rights Principles for a Pandemic Treaty (Working Draft)

Expert Legal Opinion on Proposed COVID-19 TRIPS Waiver

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