World Health Organization Expansion is Antithetical to American Self Governance
By Paige Agostin
The World Health Organization (WHO) is the international governance body which coordinates efforts to address health concerns within the U.N. system. A primary mission of the WHO is to prevent the spread of outbreaks of infectious diseases. However, the WHO’s performance during COVID-19 was a debacle.
By early December 2019, doctors in Wuhan knew there was a growing health problem, but China did not notify the WHO until December 31st. Meanwhile, WHO told the world that the airport and hospital screenings which had begun in nearby countries were an overreaction and insisted there was “no evidence of significant human-to-human transmission.” It was not until January 22, 2020 that China finally admitted the virus was “highly infectious.” By then, it had already spread to 12 other Chinese districts: Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand; and was also reported in Hong Kong, Macao, Vietnam, Singapore, and the United States by January 24th. Yet on that same day, WHO reaffirmed its advice “against the application of any restrictions of international traffic.”
Even after WHO finally declared the coronavirus outbreak a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” on January 30th, it continued to advise against “any travel or trade restrictions,” saying that such limits could “promote stigma or discrimination.” On January 31st, when President Trump shut down noncitizen entry from China, WHO opposed the restrictions, calling them “counterproductive.” A full month later, after WHO reported 81,109 confirmed coronavirus cases in 38 countries and Taiwan, WHO’s Director-General was advising against travel restrictions and urging countries who had them to reverse them.
China also refused to let WHO in to investigate the accelerating epidemic. China allowed investigators to enter in late January, after more than a month of WHO repeating Chinese claims regarding the virus and it seems, gaining assurance that WHO would be a willing partner. Clearly, the WHO was compromised, providing uncritical cover for China while attacking other countries for their response to the growing epidemic. WHO continued to participate in spreading Chinese propaganda throughout, for example, insisting there was no lab-leak and labeling such theories as disinformation. The world also has China, the WHO, and the policymakers who peddled their lies to thank for the failed lockdowns embraced by governments everywhere.
Early in his administration, President Biden reversed President Trump’s efforts to hold the WHO accountable. He resumed substantial U.S. funding to the organization and granted the U.S.’s imprimatur on the WHO continuing to lead investigations into the origins of COVID-19, even after it had repeatedly acquiesced to China’s demands and dismissed credible theories as conspiracies.
Now, President Biden is further legitimizing the WHO with its proposed regulatory amendments. These amendments, if adopted, threaten the sovereignty of any nation that may reject the WHO’s established narrative. The Biden Administration is also proposing these amendments as an alternative to a treaty that would be submitted to the Senate and likely unable to gain the two-thirds of the support necessary for passage. Instead of holding the WHO and China accountable, the Biden administration seeks to strengthen the globalist grip on American public policy.
On January 18, 2022, the Biden Administration notified the World Health Assembly (WHA) that it would be submitting amendments to the WHO’s International Health Regulations (2005) for its approval. Accordingly, the WHA is scheduled to consider “Provisional agenda item 16.2” at its upcoming conference on May 22-28, 2022. Though Biden notified the WHA of the amendments in January, the public was not made aware until April 12, 2022.
The U.S. is the largest single donor to the WHO. In FY2020, the U.S. was assessed to carry 22% of WHO’s core budget, an estimated $120.5 million (only $58.3 million had been paid when President Trump announced the U.S. would stop funding WHO). Additionally, the U.S. provided an average of $262 million a year in voluntary funding from FY2012 through FY2019. In addition to the U.S. and the European Union, some 20 nations are said to be supportive of the amendments.
The Biden Administration proposed amendments to more than a dozen articles under the International Health Regulations (IHR) which were last updated in 2005. Generally, IHR require WHO Member States to build their own internal capacity to respond to disease outbreaks, cooperate with and provide assistance to Member States, notify WHO of any event that is of international concern, and finally, follow WHO recommendations in response to a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” (PHEIC).
The proposed amendments would impact regulations on disease surveillance and verification, reporting and notification requirements, and recommendations and response. The amendments would also establish a new Compliance Committee and allow the Director-General to declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern unilaterally, that is without the agreement of the country impacted, or the consideration of the larger assembly.
This last part is perhaps the most concerning proposal since it would cede U.S. sovereignty to determine both the gravity of a threat and the parameter of its own response to so-called health emergencies to a single bureaucrat at the WHO, the Director-General. Currently, the Director-General is Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who proved himself utterly beholden to the Chinese Communist Party in leading the WHO’s response to COVID. Tedros was formerly Health Minister and Foreign Minister for the Tigray People’s Liberation Front from 2005-2016, which is an ideologically Marxist political coalition. While Director-General Tedros is up for reelection at the May conference, he is also the only nominee. In bolstering the authorities of the failed WHO and Director-General Tedros, the Biden administration would further capitulate to the global scientific elite and would enforce their will on the American people.
This globalist urge is evidenced by the fact that other member states have also proposed establishing global accords on pandemic response, which would essentially be an international pandemic treaty. The WHA already gave the go-ahead to begin the negotiation process with the goal of adopting a treaty by 2024. The Biden Administration, no doubt aware that it does not have the necessary two-thirds majority to get such a treaty through the U.S. Senate, has proposed these regulatory changes instead.
The World Health Assembly (WHA) is the governing body of the World Health Organization (WHO) and in 1969 it adopted International Health Regulations (IHR) in hopes of controlling the spread of six diseases through quarantine. Since then, the IHR has been amended several times, but most recently in 2005. There were proposals to add enforcement measures in the wake of China’s delayed reporting of the 2002-2003 SARS outbreak, however the IHR still does not have an enforcement mechanism. For example, following adoption of the IHR mandates that countries build internal capacities in 2005, Member States had 2 years to come into compliance, by 2012, only 20 percent of countries reported to WHO that they were in compliance.
Despite regulatory mandates of the IHR, WHO does not have authority to enforce the regulations and there are no legal consequences for IHR violations. This means that even if China were found to have violated its obligations in its response to COVID-19, there would not be international law repercussions, though member states still individually retain the sovereign power to sanction those countries that they feel are acting in a harmful manner. This also means on the front-end of an outbreak WHO cannot compel a country to take specific actions. As with China and COVID-19, a country may or may not cooperate with WHO. The amendments proposed by the Biden administration do not include an enforcement mechanism nor does the WHO Constitution include strong mechanisms to force compliance with the regulations.
However, as has already been indicated by the WHA, these regulations are not the end-game. The final goal is global governance by the scientific elite. These amendments to the regulations lay the groundwork for what will eventually become some version of a public health accord or treaty. In addition, formal enforcement mechanisms are not needed in the meantime, as has become evident throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Global corporations and state and local public health authorities already have the immediate ability to enforce any dictates on behalf of the WHO. Mask mandates, lockdowns, school closures, and forced vaccinations–all are merely a preview of what could follow.
Whether it’s COVID, climate change, or some other “public health emergency,” as defined by the global elite, the political cudgel will be ready. The recent “Global Covid Summit” indicates COVID will still be the excuse, but the response will be more severe.
This threat must be taken seriously and stopped by Congress. First, Congress must block all funding to the WHO and any global health accord or treaty, including implementation of this specific WHO expansion. Members already have proposals ready to stop funding WHO and insist that the U.S. withdraw its participation in the WHO. The Trump Administration concluded that the WHO had been corrupted and complicit in unleashing COVID on the world, and its attempts to defund and withdraw from WHO membership1 are the baseline for what is now required of policymakers. The idea that the WHO can be redeemed and used for good must be abandoned. The notion arises from a false premise that global governance is consistent with American self-governance.
1. The U.S. participates in WHO under a joint resolution Congress adopted in 1948. That resolution is not a treaty and allows the U.S. to withdraw participation with a year’s notice of intent, but must continue paying assessed contributions after such a decision through the end of the fiscal year. The World Health Assembly accepted U.S. participation in WHO on those terms. At the time, the U.S. made it clear that it was including the withdrawal provision in its authorization to accept WHO membership to guard against being required to adhere to amendments with which it did not agree.
Second, Congressional Republicans must also require any international agreement be submitted to the U.S. Senate for advice and consent. Third, States must also work now to prohibit implementation of any international standards on public health, pandemic response, or global health accords, as well as take steps to statutorily ensure that national and state-level public health bureaucrats are not able to lock their citizens down.
President Biden is ceding U.S. sovereignty to the WHO. The purpose of these proposals, in lieu of a treaty, is to bypass Congress and increase the authority and stature of the WHO, whose policies could then be enforced through the Executive Branch, state and local public health authorities, and sympathetic multinational corporations. The Biden administration’s clear intent is to erode self-governance by sovereign nations and increase the authority of global institutions. Authorizing the WHO to declare international public health emergencies without the consultation of respective countries would be a grave furtherance of that mission. It must be vigorously opposed by the states and Congress.
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