Council of former world leaders urges urgent global co-operation to combat Covid-19 and plan for a better future

The InterAction Council of former heads of state and government supports the urgent need for a co-ordinated global response to the Covid-19 pandemic. As a contribution to the public debate, the Council today released Global Responsibilities and an Emergency Framework for Countries and Communities,” a briefing prepared by its strategic advisor on global health, Dr. Joanna Nurse.
Global public health and pandemic preparedness have been a priority area of the InterAction Council since 2014 when the world was grappling with the largest outbreak of the Ebola virus in history. The importance of collaboration through international institutions has similarly been a longstanding preoccupation of the Council. Following its meeting on public health emergencies in 2015, the Council recommended that states should not only affirm the importance of the World Health Organization but also commit to increased funding. 
“In our interconnected world, multilateralism and co-ordination are essential to successfully containing and combatting virus outbreaks,” said Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria and Co-chair of the InterAction Council. “As the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, ‘We are only as strong as the weakest health system.’ We must strengthen and support our international systems so they can provide the help that is so desperately needed during times of crisis, particularly in the developing world.” 
In 2016, the InterAction Council recognized that the “health of humanity depends on the overall health of our planet.” In its final communique, the Council warned that the “probability of a pandemic outbreak with serious consequences is increased by population increase, change in food and agriculture systems, and evolving land use.”
“Global health security affects us all,” said Bertie Ahern, former Prime Minister of Ireland and Co-chair of the InterAction Council. “The Covid-19 pandemic is providing us with countless learning opportunities. We all hope to emerge stronger, but we have an opportunity to also emerge better. Let us reflect on not only the lessons of this time of crisis but also on the years prior. When we rebuild, let’s do it right. Our goal must be to build a healthier planet.”
The InterAction Council planned to meet to discuss preparedness for the novel coronavirus at the beginning of April in Malta, but like other international meetings during this unprecedented time, those plans were postponed. The emergency framework was developed by Dr. Nurse for the Council members and other global leaders and organisations as they consider the way forward during the Covid-19 pandemic.
“This pandemic has revealed humanity’s vulnerability and our deep sense of interconnectedness with each other and our environment; as global citizens we need to look after each other during this crisis and work together to create a safe and sustainable world for the wellbeing of all on this planet,” said Joanna Nurse, former Head of Health and Education for The Commonwealth and strategic advisor to the InterAction Council.
The framework has already been endorsed and supported by the following organisations: The Aga Khan UniversityAmref Health Africa, Arab World Association of Young Scientists (ArabWAYS), The Club of RomeCommonwealth Centre for Digital HealthCommonwealth Human Ecology CouncilCommonwealth Local Government ForumCommonwealth Medical AssociationFaculty of Public Health UKOne Young WorldSociety for the Advancement of Science and Technology in the Arab World (SASTA)University of NairobiWorld Federation of Public Health Associations (WFPHA)World Organisation of Family Doctors (Wonca), World Psychiatric Association
About InterAction Council
Established in 1983, the InterAction Council of Former Heads of State and Government is an international organization whose objective is to address long-term, global issues facing humankind. Co-chaired by the Honourable Bertie Ahern (Prime Minister of Ireland, 1997-2008) and H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo (President of Nigeria, 1999-2007), the Council’s membership is comprised of more than forty former heads of state and government who volunteer their time to develop proposals for action and submit them directly to national and international decision-makers.
In its 37-year history, the InterAction Council has been at the forefront of many prominent issues, most notably the 1997 draft Universal Declaration of Human Responsibilities; the 2010 Hiroshima Declaration, a powerful plea for the abolishment of nuclear weapons; the 2012 report, The Global Water Crisis: Addressing an Urgent Security Issue; and most recently, the 2017 Dublin Charter for One Health.
For further information, please visit the InterAction Council website