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WHO challenges myths around pandemic treaty that supports seafarers

16 May 2024

Nautilus has welcomed action by the World Health Organization (WHO) to scotch misinformation about a treaty that would protect seafarers' rights in a future pandemic.

In an unusual move, WHO has spoken out against some British politicians who have been lobbying the UK government to block the deal on the grounds that it gives away national sovereignty.

The UN body said: 'Claims that the draft agreement will cede sovereignty to WHO and will give the WHO secretariat power to impose lockdowns or vaccine mandates on countries are false and have never been requested nor proposed. This agreement will not, and cannot, grant sovereignty to WHO.'

The aim of the treaty is in fact to shore up cooperation between WHO member states if a Covid-19 situation arises again. If adopted, the legally binding treaty would commit countries to helping each other in the event of a pandemic, increase research and sharing of data, and promote fair access to vaccines.

'Working with our international partners, we have also managed to get a clause into the treaty that acknowledges seafarers and their essential role,' said Nautilus general secretary Mark Dickinson. 'It commits parties to implementing policies and measures for the safety and protection of seafarers and to facilitate their transit and transfer as well as access to medical care.

'We strongly support the treaty and we are pleased that there is a provision that commits states to respect the rights of transboundary workers and specifically seafarers.'

Negotiations on the treaty are nearing completion, with the aim of taking the text to a vote at the World Health Assembly later this month.


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