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Negotiations on WHO pandemic treaty extended for a year– agreement reached on amendments to International Health Regulations

Ministry of Social Affairs and Health
Publication date 6.6.2024 9.49
Press release
WHO:n lippu

The WHO Member States have agreed to extend negotiations on a pandemic treaty for up to a year. The decision to continue the negotiations was made at the World Health Assembly on 1 June. However, an agreement was reached on a package of amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR). The negotiations on them were thus finalised.

The IHR are the key international agreement that covers measures to prepare for, and respond to, cross-border health threats. The purpose of the pandemic treaty and the IHR amendments is to provide the international community with even better tools to prevent and combat pandemics and other health threats. 

Finland considers it important that both of these legal instruments strengthen the countries’ pandemic preparedness and readiness as well as international cooperation and global justice in responding to pandemics. It is important to continue to respect national competence in the future, too. In other words, the instruments cannot restrict national competence during health threats. 

In future, WHO may declare pandemic emergencies

Some of the amendments adopted by the World Health Assembly are minor and technical, whereas others are larger-scale in nature. The outcome of the negotiations is in line with Finland’s position and objectives.

The IHR now state that, based on the recommendation of the Emergency Committee, the WHO may in future declare a pandemic emergency, which means the most serious cross-border threat to health. A pandemic emergency refers to a serious communicable disease that has wide geographical spread, overwhelms the response capacity of national health systems and causes substantial social and economic disruption. 

The new amendments to the IHR thus define what a pandemic emergency is and how to prevent and respond to cross-border health threats. The aim of the future pandemic treaty is to further strengthen the ways of preventing pandemics and to improve equitable access to medical countermeasures during pandemics. 

No new financial obligations

The adopted IHR amendments do not create any new financial obligations binding on the State Parties. Instead, a new Coordinating Financial Mechanism will be established under the WHO to intensify cooperation between the existing sources of financing. In addition, the Member States will review their possibilities of providing voluntary funding for the pandemic preparedness of developing countries. Funding will always be based on a separate national decision.

The new IHR amendments also require that each Member State designate a National IHR Authority to oversee and assess the national implementation of the IHR. 

The WHO Director-General will notify all Member States of the adopted IHR amendments. The Member States will then have ten months to discuss and accept the amendments at the national level. The amendments will enter into force 12 months after the date of the notification by the Director-General for all those Member States that do not opt out of the amendments. In Finland, the amendments will be considered first by the Government, then by Parliament and finally by the President of the Republic.  

The negotiations on the pandemic treaty will continue in the autumn. A more detailed schedule for the negotiations will be confirmed in July. The pandemic treaty is to be adopted at the next World Health Assembly in May 2025 at the latest. 


Outi Kuivasniemi, Senior Ministerial Adviser, International Affairs, tel. +358 295 163 117, [email protected]