Open letter to Member States on the meaningful participation of civil society and communities in the work of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body drafting and negotiating a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response

As the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), responsible for drafting and negotiating a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response meet on 6-8 June 2022, 113 organisations and individuals share an open letter to Member States to ensure the full and meaningful participation of civil society and community-led organisations throughout the drafting and negotiation process of the instrument.

The proposed modalities of engagement for relevant stakeholders, approved at the INB meeting in March 2022, limit civil society and community participation in all stages of the process to non-State Actors in official relations with WHO. The inclusion of voices from broader civil society and communities is only envisaged on a case by case basis, for instance by providing inputs to the INB via an electronic portal, an open “hearing”, and/or a segment of a session, as determined and agreed by Member States. As of May 2022, engagement of civil society and communities has been limited to public hearings held on 13-14 April 2022.

The letter calls on Member States to review the proposed modalities of engagement to:

  • Remove the requirement of official relation status with WHO to participate in the INB (to be replaced, if necessary, with an accessible accreditation process open to all civil society and communities)
  • Facilitate significant opportunities for a broad and representative range of civil society and community-led organisations to participate fully in all INB meetings, whether substantive or procedural in nature, both in person and remotely, allowing sufficient time in all meetings for oral inputs
  • Set up a process by which ample and consistent opportunities are provided to a broad and representative range of civil society and community-led organisations to submit written statements and recommendations to the INB
  • Fully, meaningfully and effectively consult a broad range of civil society and community-led organisations about the desirable length, dates, platforms and all other aspects of the proposed “public hearings” and “regional consultations”
  • Schedule regular briefings for civil society and community-led organisations
  • Provide timely access to documents, such as draft provisions of the treaty and draft documents setting out modalities and timelines for the treaty drafting process
  • Provide, wherever necessary, interpretation and other services and accommodations needed to ensure that all persons can enjoy full participation on a continuous basis

A copy of the letter signed by 113 organisations and individuals can be found here