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An International Treaty to Confront Diseases

International conventions and treaties constitute an important pillar in the modern world order, as they frame international cooperation and set rules for the rights and obligations of nations and peoples. These agreements cover a wide range of fields, ranging from preventing the spread of nuclear weapons to the rights of men, women, and children, to preserving our environmental diversity and protecting the natural environment. In light of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, some aspire to apply this basic concept in international relations to the field of global health. Among the many lessons learned from COVID-19 is the need for concerted international efforts to confront epidemics, to avoid the current conflict between developed countries over available vaccines, and to help middle- and low-income countries obtain doses as well. This growing awareness of the importance of international cooperation in facing epidemics has recently come to light through calls made by 24 world leaders – including German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron, and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson – to institutionalize cooperation against epidemics and infectious diseases in the future. This call was voiced in newspaper articles published in some of the most important newspapers around Europe, including the British Daily Telegraph, the French Le Monde, and the Spanish El País. These leaders compared the current global situation and the enormous economic losses we are facing to the global situation at the end of World War II, which left a devastating impact on the world. And as it happened then, when world leaders were able to finally look beyond their national interests and work together to bring about safety, peace, and economic prosperity, the time has now come to set the foundations for international cooperation on fighting diseases. There is no doubt that the lessons learned from the current coronavirus crisis will place all of us in a better position in the future in terms of predicting epidemics, detecting them early, confronting them, and containing them more effectively, within a framework of international cooperation defined by international treaties and agreements. –Akmal Abd Al-Hakim (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)