Pandemic treaty, Italy’s no to the WHO. Schillaci like Milei

Pandemic treaty, Italy’s no to the WHO. Schillaci like Milei
Pandemic treaty, Italy’s no to the WHO. Schillaci like Milei

Italy has withdrawn from negotiations on the World Health Organization (WHO) pandemic treaty. The press knows it (the health minister Orazio Schillaci gave an interview to Mediaset well in advance expressing opposition to this agreement) and the news which has not yet been released has leaked out anyway, but the WHO, meeting this week in the its seventy-seventh world assembly in Geneva.

In one of his fleeting appearances, Schillaci spoke in plenary yesterday with a speech that addressed various issues – health and conflicts, the G7 plan to work on global health architecture, antimicrobial resistance and digital solutions for health – but he completely avoided any mention of the issue at the center of the week’s work. The pandemic agreement, promoted first and foremost by Europe in 2021 with the unconditional adhesion of Minister Speranza, aims to prepare a strategy for prevention, preparation and response to future pandemics. The goal of reaching consensus among the 194 member states to close the negotiation before the assembly, as was established at the WHO Special Session in December 2021, was not achieved. Moreover, it was an absurd timing to build a serious diplomatic path. However, the delegates did exhausting work in this race against time, with non-stop sessions, which continued into the middle of the night.

As we write, the discussion focuses on how to articulate the next phases on the pandemic treaty so as not to lose the work done so far and resolve the complex negotiating issues still pending. Unlike Milei’s Argentina, which clearly expressed its intention not to support the treaty, Italy has not said a word. All delegates favorably supported the idea of ​​continuing, highlighting several crucial issues to be resolved: the centrality of equity in the distribution of pandemic products, access to pathogens and information sharing, legal responsibility (liability) of the pharmaceutical industries, the principle of solidarity and inclusion, the transfer of technologies and the mandatory nature of some clauses of the treaty, especially regarding intellectual property. The negotiations will need the right breathing space, said representatives of Canada, Malaysia, the Philippines, Tanzania, among others. And a more participatory mode, as requested by African countries. But we move forward.

What is Italy’s problem? The issue would concern the transfer of national sovereignty to the WHO in the event of a next pandemic. It would be interesting to ask the minister if he has ever read the current version of the treaty. Which articles are you referring to? Has he ever paid attention to articles 24 and/or 26 of the text, which states the protection of the national sovereignty of countries? We doubt that Schillaci would be able to answer.

Furthermore, why instead of raising the problem openly, with respect for the delegation that has put its face to it so far, did he leave the United Nations building without giving an account to the world of the position of the Italian government, which among other things presides over the G7?

The problem is twofold. Is it serious. More than criteria of competence, Schillaci’s position is inspired by the Trumpian campaign against the WHO that has been in vogue since the years of the pandemic. A well-funded and organized sovereignist ideology that enjoys followers within the government majority. Minister Schillaci’s behavior at the WHO demonstrates little respect for intergovernmental action, lack of transparency, poor assumption of responsibility. There is not much to trust at this rate, in the case of a next pandemic.

 
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