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Pathogen Sharing and International Law The Search for Equity Under the Pandemic Treaty (Online Participation)

Date: 19 July 2023

Time: 17.30 - 19.00 (UK time)

Venue: Online

Sponsored by:

Please note, this page is for online participation. If you would like to participate in person please visit the in person booking page.

Event Details

Pathogens are essential ingredients to monitor the spread of disease, and for developing and producing the vaccines we use to fight infectious disease. Under international law, pathogens are not a resource freely available to be used for the greater good. Instead, countries have sovereign rights over the pathogens isolated within their territories, and access can only be provided by that country of origin, subject to mutually agreed terms. This has turned pathogens into valuable commodities, used as transactional bargaining chips between countries during infectious disease emergencies. Under this international system, access to pathogens should be accompanied by Benefit Sharing such as through access to medical countermeasures (Access and Benefit-Sharing or ABS). Such a system has been presented as a tool to counter global inequality in a pandemic.

In response to the widespread inequity witnessed during the COVID-19 pandemic, Member States of the World Health Organisation (WHO) are currently negotiating a new international legal instrument, intended to prevent pandemics and mitigate associated inequalities - the Pandemic Treaty. The new instrument is intended to be grounded in equity, with equity positioned as both an objective and as an operational output and pathogen ABS being a central way in which equity is to be operationalised within the Treaty. The Treaty is intended to prevent future pandemics, improve future pandemic response, mitigate associated inequalities, such as vaccine access, and improve compliance with international law during pandemic health emergencies. The current draft of the Treaty envisages the establishment of a complex system for access and benefit-sharing of pathogens of pandemic potential under the auspices of the WHO. Negotiations on this Treaty launched in March 2022 and are set to conclude in 2024; a remarkably short time frame in international law terms.

This event, which will feature numerous invited speakers, will explore the call for equity within the Pandemic Treaty, with a particular focus on how equity was in such short supply during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The discussions will further critique the construction of equity under the draft Pandemic Treaty. The event will conclude by offering reflections on how equity might best be embedded within any future Pandemic Treaty.

Event convened by Anthony Wenton, Research Fellow in Public International Law, British Institute of International and Comparative Law (BIICL).

Pricing and Registration

This event is free to attend but pre-registration is required. 

CPD Information

This event offers the equivalent of 2 CPD hours.


If you have any queries, please contact the Events team

Event Recording

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