Thank you for writing to me about a potential new international treaty for pandemic preparedness.
It is my understanding that a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response is under discussion, with the 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 (WHO) to this end, but it is the member states, not the WHO itself, who will determine and negotiate and agree the content of any treaty. It is my understanding that the 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 and recognise your concerns about this. I am clear that I will not support any treaty which compromises the UK's sovereignty, and I am being told by my ministerial colleagues that the Government fully agrees on that point. The Government has provided reassurances that there is nothing in the proposed treaty that would impact our ability to take decisions about national lockdowns or associated measures at the national level. I would certainly not support a treaty which gave the WHO powers to make such decisions, which are rightly the preserve of our elected Government.
Once adopted, international treaties only become binding in 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, please be assured I will not support any treaty on pandemic preparedness that is not in our national interest or which compromises the UK's sovereignty. I will be trying to follow and monitor the discussions closely, but I am somewhat reassured to date by the Government’s public commitment to our sovereignty in these matters.
Thank you again for taking the time to write to me.
With best wishes.
Jonathan Lord MP
Member of Parliament for Woking