WHO Seeks Power to Override U.S. Pandemic Response
A World Health Organization (WHO) international negotiating body (INB) devoted to drafting an international pandemic convention will gather on Monday in a session scheduled to last all week. The INB’s session, its fourth since it was established in December 2021, will consider a draft convention text, labeled “zero draft,” which would dramatically expand the WHO’s power to control national pandemic responses.
But Brownstone Institute senior scholar David Bell, a public health physician who formerly worked for the WHO as a specialist in epidemic policy, warned on “Washington Watch” that the WHO is pursuing two separate routes to grab more power. One effort, which has a committee meeting scheduled for next week, is a pandemic treaty, “which is probably going to be voted on [in] May of next year,” he said. The other is an effort to amend international health regulations, last amended in 2005, which “are the main thing at the moment,” Bell explained, as the World Health Assembly can vote on amendments every year at their May gathering.
The Biden administration proposed amendments last year that would “centralize authority not just for pandemics, for any health emergency in the hands of the director-general,” Bell said. They would also “expand the definition of emergency” to mean anything the director-general wants. Bell said even climate change or racism could be declared a public health emergency because “there’s a lot of emphasis on this ‘One Health Approach.’” The WHO describes “One Health” as “an integrated unifying approach to balance and optimize the health of people, animals, and the environment.”
Bell said the WHO Director-General “is essentially put there due to diplomatic maneuverings,” making it a relatively unaccountable position. The current Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, was a Marxist warlord in Ethiopia who obtained the position with heavy lobbying from China. Under his leadership, the WHO has promoted an anti-life, anti-family agenda that is viewed as toxic in many countries around the world. The WHO declared abortion to be “essential” during the COVID lockdowns and has promoted explicit sex-ed to young children. Even after helping China cover up COVID-19 — and thus helping to spread the disease in early 2020 — he won reelection without opposition, in part because the Biden administration neglected to nominate an alternate candidate.
Bell warned that the Biden administration’s proposed amendments would give the director-general vast powers in a health emergency, including “a large surveillance mechanism … closing borders, controlling travel, … requiring medical examinations, [and] requiring medication or injections.” These are very major powers for a person essentially sitting in Geneva to impose on anyone around the world, based on his own definition of what a potential emergency will be.”
The amendments are “an extension of what’s happened over a couple of decades,” said Bell. But they would also mark “a big change in the role of the WHO. The intent is very clear: to take over a lot of national health policy, and in a very restrictive way.”
Amendments to WHO regulations would take effect without ratification by the U.S. Senate. “They’re doing an end run around the Senate,” said Family Research Council President Tony Perkins, host of “Washington Watch.”
Due to a combination of legal wrangling and the united opposition of African nations, 12 out of 13 resolutions proposed by the Biden administration to expand the power of the WHO director-general failed at the World Health Assembly’s 2022 meeting. But nothing prevents the Biden administration from offering them again at the 2023 World Health Assembly in May, and they require support from a simple majority of member nations to pass.
For now, however, the focus is on the INB’s “zero draft” of an international pandemic treaty, which it will consider at its meeting next week. A treaty or convention must be approved by two-thirds of WHO member nations.
Although not fully developed, Article 15.2 gives the WHO director-general power to declare pandemics. It reads, “recognizing the central role of WHO as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work … the WHO director-general shall, in accordance with terms set out herein, declare pandemics.”
Once the WHO director-general declares a pandemic, several articles dictate what member nations must do “in the event of a pandemic.” For instance, countries must “develop a mechanism to ensure the fair and equitable allocation of pandemic-related products based on public health risks and needs” (Article 6), which would mean that the U.S. cannot prioritize its own population in distributing U.S.-made vaccines. Countries must pressure companies to waive their intellectual property rights (Article 7) — which are protected in the U.S. Constitution — a move that could lead to China stealing more U.S. intellectual property. Countries must “accelerate the process of approving and licensing pandemic-related products for emergency use in a timely manner” (Article 8), which would effectively force the FDA to authorize vaccines for emergency use, a move that (with COVID-19) led to government mandates of an untested vaccine that turned out to be no more effective than natural immunity.
The treaty is “deliberately drafted … to circumvent the power of the Senate to give its advice and consent to treaties, to provisionally bring it into force immediately upon signature,” said Francis Boyle, professor of international law at the University of Illinois College of Law. Article 35.1 says that the treaty “may be applied provisionally, in whole or in part, by a signatory and/or Party that consents to its provisional application,” before it is actually ratified.
The draft treaty the INB will consider next week “not only allows the WHO to declare these pandemics, but then to essentially take over the controls from the member states in terms of what their response will be. That includes lockdowns, masks, vaccines,” summarized Perkins. He asked Bell, “Can you give me some parallel of some other entity that has this much power?”
Bell couldn’t think of an example, except perhaps the European Union. “These are not powers the UN [United Nations] normally has,” he said. “[They aren’t] powers, certainly, that have ever been seen in the health field. It’s much greater powers than most national health authorities have over their own people.”
If either the treaty or amendments “give the World Health Organization authority that overrides both the freedoms of individuals and the sovereignty of nations,” said Perkins, “why is the legacy media ignoring this?”
“This is precedent setting. You start here, where people have this sense of vulnerability and they’re looking for security,” began Perkins. “And so they cede rights. They give up freedoms in order to get this, quote unquote, ‘protection,’ but then it moves elsewhere. This will set a precedent for global governance.”
“I think one of the obvious reasons may be the burgeoning influence of communist China,” suggested academic clinical trialist and epidemiologist Andrew Bostom on “Washington Watch.” “After all, they seem to be directing WHO’s policy.”
“The so-called Chinese standard for handling SARS-COV-2, which was an abysmal failure, is what now would be, I guess, promulgated through the WHO for all kinds of infectious diseases and other situations,” said Bostom. “And, of course, I’m sure the worst restrictions China will be exempt from just like when it comes to climate change.” China was forced to relax its harsh “zero-COVID” policies in December after protests swept the nation.
“The whole pandemic, it was about control,” said Perkins, “and we’re seeing that blatantly in the WHO, this massive power grab. … This is one of those areas you got to draw a line on, because if not, the Biden administration are going to have their way using the back door to force this on the American people through the UN and the WHO.”
Perkins suggested that “the only way this is going to stop is to get the Republicans in the House to draw a line and say, we’re not funding the WHO,” which he predicted could happen “in the budget battle coming up.”
Joshua Arnold is a staff writer at The Washington Stand.