Thank you for contacting me about a potential new international treaty for pandemic preparedness.
The COVID-19 pandemic has been one of the greatest challenges to the established international order since the Second World War; a global threat that has required global solutions borne out of global cooperation. It has been immensely heartening to have seen the peoples and nations of the world pull together as they have. I pay tribute to all, everywhere.
As in the late 1940s, where, to avert a repeat of the cataclysm of total war, world leaders came together to establish the multilateral system we have today, I think it is reasonably fair to argue that a similar effort is required on the part of world leaders to strengthen preparedness for potential future pandemics.
As such, I welcome the suggestion of the former Prime Minister, writing with other world leaders last year, that the international community should commit to producing a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response. I understand that such a treaty would aim to foster greatly enhanced cooperation in order to better protect the UK from the health, social and economic impacts of pandemics.
Discussions are ongoing at the World Health Organisation to this end. The UK Government wants to reach agreement on its priority areas such as improving transparency, timely data sharing and supporting equitable access to vaccines and treatments.
I appreciate that you have some concerns about this, however, the Government will not support any treaty which compromises the UK's sovereignty. There is nothing in the proposed treaty that would impact our ability to take decisions about national lockdowns or other measures of this nature at the national level.
Once adopted, international treaties only become binding on the UK when ratified by Parliament in accordance with our constitutional process. No international treaty can by itself change UK law. If changes to the law are necessary, then a treaty could not be ratified until domestic legislation, agreed by Parliament, was put in place. As I have said, I will not support any treaty that is not in our interests or which compromises the UK's sovereignty.
Thank you again for taking the time to contact me.