If bilateral cooperation develops rapidly as a result of the Pathogens Initiative, the intergovernmental coordinating mechanism suggested in Chapter 3 becomes increasingly important. During Phase 2, a formal structure for intergovernmental coordination would be essential.

One approach for Phase 2 would be to establish an intergovernmental commission, supported by national coordinating bodies, to guide and coordinate cooperative efforts related to dangerous pathogens. The national security and public health aspects of a significantly expanded program of cooperation appear sufficiently important to warrant consideration of a commission dedicated exclusively to this topic. Although the two governments might decide to use another approach, for the purposes of this discussion it is assumed that a commission would be the coordination mechanism of choice.

From the beginning, the commission would be aware of all joint programs involving dangerous pathogens, but it would be committed to facilitating, not complicating, implementation of previously existing bilateral programs. The commission would be responsible for a variety of activities such as the following.

  • Establishing priorities and providing overall guidance for all aspects of cooperation—both new and existing activities—and, on a selective basis, reviewing and evaluating progress in implementing activities of special interest

  • Approving new cooperative activities

  • Making financial commitments for cooperative activities

  • Ensuring coordination between new projects and related existing projects and assisting the arrangement of logistics support

  • Disseminating both scientific reports and public information about activities of broad interest

  • Developing bilateral arrangements that address issues such as intellectual property rights, mechanisms for the rapid importation of essential equipment and supplies, and living accommodations for visiting scientists and their families.

Much of the technical work of the commission would be carried out by bilateral expert groups in areas such as research cooperation, joint efforts in epidemiology, and common requirements for biosafety. Some topics of likely interest to such groups are addressed later in the discussion of technical aspects of the program.

The national coordinating body in the United States should build on experience during the Pathogens Initiative, which calls for collaborative efforts of the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Institutes of Health (NIH), Food and Drug Administration (FDA), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and nongovernment sector. Coordination of bilateral and multilateral activities would probably require greater attention during Phase 2. Also, linkages with joint efforts on other public health concerns should be strong.


Given the legacy of mutual mistrust in this field, an era of sustained cooperation should emphasize transparency at several levels. Building on the initial experience in implementing transparency arrangements associated with specific joint projects, Phase 2 would call for broader transparency arrangements for handling dangerous pathogens at the institutional and national levels, as well as at the project level.

A number of components of the Phase 2 program would build on early experience gained within the framework of the Pathogens Initiative. Therefore, details of these activities should be modified as

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