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Compliance and Accountability Mechanisms in the 2024 Revisions to the WHO International Health Regulations (2005)

Since the COVID-19 virus first emerged in China in late 2019 there have been many high-level reviews of how the world could better have tackled this devastating episode, including the report of the Independent Panel on Pandemic Preparedness and Response (IPPR) report “Make it the Last Pandemic” co-chaired by Helen Clark and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. EJIL: Talk! has previously featured various commentaries on the application of the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR) in the COVID-19 pandemic and States’ accountability in relation to disease outbreak notification and control including States’ Duties to Prevent and Halt the Coronavirus Outbreak, whether Justified Border Closures violated the International Health Regulations as suggested in The Lancet, and whether there should be an International Commission of Inquiry for COVID-19. Arguably, however, it is ensuring countries’ capacities across all realms of pandemic preparedness that remains most important and should be the subject of overarching international accountability machinery. On 1 June 2024, the World Health Assembly (WHA) finally adopted negotiated changes to the IHR in…

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