SOFIA PALMISANO & RICKY RUTO TALAM
In this post, we examine the ratification status of the Agreement on the Establishment of the International Vaccine Institute (IVI), which entered into force on May 29, 1997. The IVI is currently headquartered in Seoul, South Korea. This agreement was developed by the United Nations Development Programme. The IVI aims to research vaccines targeting diseases primarily affecting children in less developed countries.
Surprisingly, this treaty has not garnered widespread support, revealing the hypocrisy, particularly among wealthier countries, regarding their priorities. Vaccines have been a consistent source of controversy within the United Nations, especially regarding their distribution to the most needed areas—developing nations and vulnerable populations, particularly children.
To better understand which states have currently ratified this instrument, we created a choropleth map, using the ggplot2 package for R. We extrapolated the data from the UN Treaty Collection’s website and we classified UN member states into three distinct groups. We designate states that have not ratified or signed this agreement as having taken “no action”. A “state party” is classified as a state that has ratified the instrument or acceded to its rules. A “signatory state” is a state which has signed but has not ratified the agreement.
Recent events, notably the global pandemic, have heightened public awareness regarding the shortcomings of the global health system. The United States serves as an example of what occurs when affluent countries act independently, neglecting global cooperation for the greater good. During the pandemic, the U.S. was found stockpiling COVID-19 vaccines while production was insufficient for global distribution, keeping life-saving vaccines from the most vulnerable populations worldwide. Had the U.S. signed and participated in the International Vaccine Institute treaty, it could have alleviated production scaling issues and mitigated the devastating impact felt, especially in Africa.
The reluctance of wealthier nations to recognize the benefits of a healthier global population is disheartening. Vaccines, a marvel of modern medicine, have significantly prolonged and improved human lives, nearly eradicating diseases like Polio, Tetanus, Measles, Diphtheria, and Pertussis. IVI’s sustained funding has bolstered the global Cholera stockpile, aiding deployments in Haiti, South Sudan, Malawi, and Guinea IVI’s potential adaptability could shape a more prepared, resilient, and cost-effective global healthcare system.
As the UN members explore new measures to prevent future pandemics, they should consider ratifying the agreement that created the IVI in 1997 and joining the organization.
Want to learn more about this legal instrument?
Data on this convention’s ratification status is available on the World Politics Data Lab’s GitHub page. The most recent dataset was uploaded to the repository on October 1, 2023.
For more information on the convention’s history and its current application, please refer to the following academic writings:
Kim, J.H., 2016. “Profile: International Vaccine Institute,” Human Vaccines & Immunotherapeutics, 12(2): 554-555.
Loucq, C. (2013) “Vaccines today, vaccines tomorrow: a perspective,” Clinical and Experimental Vaccine Research 2(1): 4-7.
About the authors:
Sofia Palmisano is a junior majoring in International Relations and minoring in Chinese at Drew University.
Ricky Ruto Talam is a senior majoring in International Relations at Drew University.
Editor’s note: This post is part of a long-term project. Students enrolled in Drew University’s Semester on the United Nations, Principles in International Law and International Human Rights have been and will be collecting data on the ratification status of treaties deposited in the United Nations Treaty Collection. For more information on this project and its learning goals, click here.