What Is The World Signing Up For With The WHO? – Analysis


The May 27 deadline for comments on the Pandemic Treaty and International Health Regulations (IHR) amendments is quickly coming up. The World Health Council (WHC) is scheduled to vote upon the amendments on May 28. 

If and when the amendments are voted upon, and eventually become ratified by the WHC, the IHRs will become legally binding on member nations, rather than advisories as they are at present.

This will give the WHO the sole authority to declare whether public health risks and/or emergencies exist, anywhere within member states. The WHO will also have the power to specify the conditions of entry into a country, through the IHRs. This includes, screening, vaccinations, testing, and documentation. The WHO will be able to specify measures to prevent the spread of diseases includes vaccines and other measures such as medical testing, isolation and quarantine. 

The IHRs will allow WHO officials to supervise any specific ‘health’ related activities within member nations.

The Pandemic Treaty will allow the WHO to undertake any search it deems necessary for pathogens, and bring them into designated laboratories. The WHO will be able to shorten the timeframe for regulators authorising products for emergency use. Finally, the WHO will set up a global distribution network for specified pharmaceuticals. 

If nations don’t formally object to the proposed IHRs and the Pandemic Treaty, existing IHRs, silence will be deemed as consent. 

However, there are some issues standing in the way of ratifying the above agreements. Under the WHO guidelines, Article 55 requires 4 months of discussion on any proposed amendments before they can be voted upon. May 28, is before the end of this 4-month period. Secondly, reports indicate that various states are struggling to find a common ground. 

The Director General of The WHO Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told the Intergovernmental Negotiation Body (INB) in March that the Pandemic Treaty and IHR are “a generational opportunity to shape the future where pandemics are met with decisive action, and communities are protected”.

For those who wish to put trust in the WHO there are a number of issues to consider.

Criticism of the WHO during the Covid-19 pandemic

The WHO has come under heavy criticism during the Covid-19 pandemic. An independent panel argued the WHO was slow to declare the outbreak in China, an international pandemic a week earlier than it did. This late response prevented many governments taking immediate actions to protect the most vulnerable. The WHO was political in its stance of the origins of the virus, and silent on the economic issues and human rights questions, concerning harsh government responses to mandatory quarantine and isolation measures. Many of the WHO guidelines during the pandemic on matters of the method of disease transmission, treating the disease and vaccine guidelines have been found deficient.

The European Parliament said this is just another example of the poor track record during pandemics, stating the WHO’s delayed response to the West African Ebola epidemic in 2014. 

The WHO has not conducted any thorough post mortem of its failings and weaknesses during the Covid-19 pandemic, but is seeking mandatory powers over the world response to any future pandemic. 

Global distribution networks and shorter timeframes for drug approvals

If the WHO has the power to set up a global distribution network for specified pharmaceuticals and also the ability to mandate national pharmaceutical regulators new product appraisal timeframes, potential conflicts of interest arise. This will allow the WHO in collaboration with pharmaceutical companies to develop a monopoly or ‘drug cartel’ during any future pandemic. 

The world witnessed the political power of Covid-19 vaccine manufacturers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Safety and efficacy issues have been bypassed by governmental authorities until the present day, and the terms of pharmaceutical company to government supply agreements remain secret. This will give too much power to the pharmaceutical industry without instating proper checks, balances and transparencies into the public domain, where independent experts will be unable to scrutinize new products. 

Nothing the world has seen to date from the WHO and the pharmaceutical industry to date gives any confidence that these new powers will be exercised in any responsible manner, where manufacturers would be accountable for what they produce. 

Rape and sexual abuse scandals

In Africa during the Ebola outbreak in North Kivu 2018-20, there have been widespread allegations of mistreatment of people by those employed by the WHO. The WHO denies any knowledge of this. A commission of investigation documented 83 allegations of abuse, including nine allegations of rape. At least 21 of the alleged perpetrators were employees of the WHO. These people were not drivers and general workers, most of the accused were specialist doctors from the WHO.

If the IHRs and Pandemic Treaty are ratified, there will be many more WHO missions abroad all over the world in the future. WHO officials and their families are given diplomatic immunity. So, the only penalty a host nation could impose upon any alleged sexual abusers would be to send them home. WHO officials are immune from national legal systems. 

Gain of function research 

The Pandemic Treaty will allow research groups commissioned by the WHO to bio-prospect for new pathogens in places these biological organisms would not usually come in contact with humans. Some of these pathogens may exist deep within cave systems, and may not jump across to humans in their present form. However, with collection, transportation to laboratories that engage in gain of function research, some of these pathogens may (or will) become transmissible to humans. 

This is taking unacceptable risks for humankind, where the origins of Covid-19 are still unknown, with the lab-leak theory still a very plausible explanation. The only explanation for gain of function research upon novel pathogens would be for biological warfare applications. Such research should be outlawed rather than encouraged by the Pandemic Treaty. 

Who funds the WHO?

The WHO website states that there are two main sources of funding for the organization. That is member states paying assessed contributions, along with further voluntary contributions. The second source of funding comes from what the WHO calls “other partners”. 

According to Statista, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is the second largest contributor to the WHO. The foundation gave the WHO US 751 million in 2020-2021. Another contributor, the GAVI Vaccine Alliance gave the WHO US 451 million in 2020-2021.

Unelected representatives with no sense of democratic accountability

Most of the officials within the WHO are bureaucrats with little or no experience within democratic government. They are unelected officials not responsible to any electorate. Thus, with no accountability towards the people, its highly likely that the genre of people within the WHO will not have much empathy towards the people as a stakeholder. 

The current Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus doesn’t have any democratic background, even though he served as a former Ethiopian health minister. Tedros was a member of the Marxist-Leninist paramilitary Tigray People’s Liberation Front, which has on and off been labelled as a terrorist organization. 

The WHO’s democratic credentials are very low. People around the world must think very deeply about giving an organization like the WHO such powerful and mandatory authority over their lives. 

Murray Hunter

Murray Hunter has been involved in Asia-Pacific business for the last 30 years as an entrepreneur, consultant, academic, and researcher. As an entrepreneur he was involved in numerous start-ups, developing a lot of patented technology, where one of his enterprises was listed in 1992 as the 5th fastest going company on the BRW/Price Waterhouse Fast100 list in Australia. Murray is now an associate professor at the University Malaysia Perlis, spending a lot of time consulting to Asian governments on community development and village biotechnology, both at the strategic level and “on the ground”. He is also a visiting professor at a number of universities and regular speaker at conferences and workshops in the region. Murray is the author of a number of books, numerous research and conceptual papers in referred journals, and commentator on the issues of entrepreneurship, development, and politics in a number of magazines and online news sites around the world. Murray takes a trans-disciplinary view of issues and events, trying to relate this to the enrichment and empowerment of people in the region.

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