FOGGS President Richard Kinley is on The Lancet COVID-19 Commission’s Global Health Diplomacy and Cooperation Task Force, which published a report titled Global diplomacy and cooperation in pandemic times: Lessons and recommendations from COVID-19 on January 6, 2022. Under the leadership of Ms. Maria Fernanda Espinosa, Dr. Muhammad Pate, and Dr. Xue Lan, the Task Force laid out (1) the core values that should guide stakeholders in preparing for the next pandemic; (2) the lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic; and (3) recommendations to strengthen government and diplomatic responses to pandemics.

The multilateral system was not prepared and fell short in responding to COVID-19. Appeals for pandemic-relief financing were not met and the WHO’s member states failed to give it the mandate and authority it required to fulfill its role. To avoid repeating these failures, the Task Force calls for a global policy response and strategy based on cooperation and coordination that is led by an effective multilateral system. This would include empowering the WHO and providing the United Nations (UN) with the resources it needs to effectively respond to public-health crises.

Of particular interest in the report is FOGGS Executive Board Member Harris Gleckman’s outline of what existing multilateral tools the UN system could have deployed to address the COVID-19 outbreak and ensure major governments and the international business sector prioritized solidarity and global public health when the COVID-19 pandemic was declared. The outline explains what is currently possible, and thereby also what are the shortcomings.

Additionally, among the Task Force’s recommendations is the establishment of FOGGS’ proposal for a new international mechanism, the UN Global Resilience Council. The UN Global Resilience Council would elevate pandemic responses from the level of self-standing intergovernmental bodies to an inclusive multilateral platform. It would have decision-making authority for non-military global threats and bring together specialized multilateral agencies, international financial institutions, and government ministries to address global crises in a cross-sectional manner.

Along with providing recommendations for the global pandemic response, the Task Force report also provides clear recommendations for strengthening local, national, and regional pandemic preparedness and response mechanisms, and it should be used to assist policymakers in preparing for complex threats to global public health.

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