WHO do you think you are? Outrage over ‘unprecedented land grab’ that ‘could see World Health Organization force Britain, the US and Australia into lockdowns in future pandemics’
- The WHO could order governments to impose rules in future disease outbreaks
- Tory MPs have called for a block on powers that would dictate UK health policy
New powers could potentially plunge Britain, the US and Australia into lockdown measures at the whim of the World Health Organization, it was claimed today.
The UN agency – heavily criticised for how it handled Covid – is considering 300 amendments to its legally-binding rulebook.
One measure floated, MPs and campaigners fear, opens the door for member states to be made to comply with any advice issued during future pandemics, such as enforcing vaccine passports and border closures.
It states that countries vow to ‘undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations in their international public health response’.
Critics today described the proposal – which still has to be voted on before ever cropping up in real-world policy – as an ‘unprecedented land grab’.
Member states would also have to use 5 per cent of health budgets on preparing for another pandemic if controversial proposals are given the go ahead.
Six Tory MPs have now written to the Foreign Office, demanding it blocks any new powers that could see the WHO dictate policy and budgets in the UK.
Ex-Cabinet minister Esther McVey warned the powers would see the organisation, described as China’s puppet by critics, move from a ‘member-led advisory body to a health authority with powers of compulsion’.
In response to the fears, the Government insisted it ‘would never agree to anything that crosses our points of principle on sovereignty’.
Molly Kingsley, founder of UsForThem, which campaigned against school closures and masks in classrooms during the pandemic, said: ‘The Government have come back and said, well actually we’re quite worried too.
‘And they’re right to be because this is a really, really unprecedented land grab by the WHO.’
‘And that includes binding recommendations over things like lockdown, mandatory vaccination, quarantine, isolation and restrictions on travel.’
Ms Kingsley added: ‘You have to ask, who is the WHO to be granting themselves powers?’
The powers are being considered as part of an update to the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, which sets out obligations for its 194 member states to prepare for and respond to outbreaks and other public health risks.
Among the 308 suggested changes are proposals to create a ‘legally binding’ response to public health emergencies, The Telegraph reported.
This amendment, suggested by African nations, states that the current wording of the IHR is ‘weak’.
The exact wording is in relation to getting the WHO to coordinate sharing drugs, tests, PPE and vaccines across the planet.
Yet the wording of another amendment proposes that: ‘Parties recognize WHO as the guidance and coordinating authority of international public health response during public health Emergency of International Concern and undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations in their international public health response.’
Ms Kingsley said this would effectively amount to making any WHO recommendations legally-binding.
In parallel, the agency is also working on a pandemic preparedness treaty.
WHO chiefs say both instruments will make the world safer from health threats, with another crisis feared to be lurking around the corner.
Bosses of the organisation are whittling down the suggested amendments, before a vote next spring decides whether they will come into force.
At a four-day meeting last month, the WHO discussed a third of the proposed amendments while being ‘mindful’ of each nation’s ‘equity, sovereignty and solidarity’.
The IHR working group is set to meet again in July, October and December and will agree on an amendments package to present to the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May next year, where a majority vote among member states decides whether they should be adopted.
The updated IHR would then come into force within a year for all member states, unless a country files a rejection.
And a meeting about the ‘complimentary’ pandemic treaty will take place in July, which sets out that all nations are expected to devote no less than 5 per cent of their budget to improve their pandemic preparedness.
However, a letter from Tory MPs, led by Ms McVey, calls for a vote in the Commons on the draft before it is signed.
The letter, seen by The Telegraph, states that there is ‘growing concern’ about both the IHR and the treaty.
Ms McVey said: ‘The plans represent a significant shift for the organisation, from a member-led advisory body to a health authority with powers of compulsion.
‘This is particularly worrying when you consider the WHO’s poor track record on providing consistent, clear and scientifically sound advice for managing international disease outbreaks.’
The WHO repeatedly came under fire during the pandemic for its stalwart defence of China.
This included parroting Beijing’s dismissal that the virus could have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
In the earliest days of the outbreak, WHO director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus even went as far as to praise Beijing’s ‘commitment to transparency’ which he called ‘beyond words’.
At around the same time, China’s Communist Party began censoring public information about the spread of the virus and its potential origins, at one point suggesting that US troops could have been the initial carriers.
Ms McVey’s letter was co-signed by Tory MPs Sir John Redwood, David Davis, Philip Davies, Sir Christopher Chope and Danny Kruger, The Telegraph reported.
Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office minister Andrew Mitchell said: ‘The UK is supportive of the pandemic treaty currently being negotiated by national governments, which could speed up the sharing of data on new pandemic threats so we are able to respond quickly in the event of future pandemics.
‘We’re clear that we would never agree to anything that crosses our points of principle on sovereignty or prevents the UK from taking decisive action against future pandemics.’
A WHO spokesperson said: ‘Just as with negotiation on pandemic accord this is a process led by sovereign states and the WHO secretariat is facilitating the negotiations.
‘As with all international instruments, any amendments to IHR, if and when agreed by member states, would be determined by governments themselves, who would take any action while considering their own national laws and regulations.’
British Members of Parliament (“MPs”) say a new pandemic treaty will give the United Nations’ World Health Organisation (“WHO”) the power to impose lockdowns on signatories, despite corporate media claims to the contrary.
A letter from six Conservative MPs to Andrew Mitchell, a Foreign Office minister, calls for a Commons vote on the draft treaty and regulations before they are signed.
It discusses WHO’s “ambition” in transitioning “from an advisory organisation to a controlling international authority” like the European Union. Esther McVey MP told The Telegraph the plans “represent a significant shift for the organisation, from a member-led advisory body to a health authority with powers of compulsion.”
“This is particularly worrying when you consider WHO’s poor track record on providing consistent, clear and scientifically sound advice for managing international disease outbreaks,” she added.
The letter has also been signed by the Tory MPs Sir John Redwood, David Davis, Philip Davies, Sir Christopher Chope and Danny Kruger.
Human history is a story of forgotten lessons. Despite the catastrophic collapse of European democracy in the 1930s, it appears that the tale of the twentieth century – in which citizens, cowed by existential threats, acquiesced in the rejection of liberty and truth in favour of obedience and propaganda, whilst allowing despotic leaders to seize ever more absolutist powers – is perilously close to being forgotten.
Nowhere is this more evident than in relation to the apparent nonchalance which has greeted two international legal agreements currently working their way through the World Health Organisation: a new pandemic treaty, and amendments to the 2005 International Health Regulations, both due to be put before the governing body of the WHO, the World Health Assembly, in May next year.
They would hardwire into international law a top-down supranational approach to public health in which the WHO, acting in some cases via the sole discretion of one individual, its Director General (DG), would be empowered to impose sweeping, legally binding directions on member states and their citizens, ranging from mandating financial contributions by individual states; to requiring the manufacture and international sharing of vaccines and other health products; to requiring the surrender of intellectual property rights; overriding national safety approval processes for vaccines, gene-based therapies, medical devices and diagnostics; and imposing national, regional and global quarantines preventing citizens from traveling and mandating medical examinations and treatments.
A global system for digital ‘health certificates’ for verification of vaccine status or test results would be routinised, and a bio-surveillance network whose purpose would be to identify viruses and variants of concern – and to monitor national compliance with WHO policy directives in the event of them – would be embedded and expanded.
For any of these sweeping powers to be invoked, there would be no requirement for an “actual” health emergency in which people are suffering measurable harm; instead it would be sufficient for the DG, acting on his or her discretion, to have identified the mere “potential” for such an event.
It is hard to overstate the impact of these proposals on Member States’ sovereignty, individual human rights, foundational principles of medical ethics, and child welfare. As currently drafted, these proposals would deny UK sovereignty and governmental autonomy over health and social policies and, through the indirect impacts of forced lockdowns and quarantines and because each Member State would be required to commit a staggering minimum of 5 percent of national health budgets and an as yet unspecified percentage of GDP towards the WHO’s pandemic prevention and response, also over critical aspects of economic policy.
The proposed new powers would cut across not only the Universal Declaration of Human Rights but also the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child. They would signal a new watershed in our understanding of cornerstone human rights: an express amendment to the IHR deletes language currently reading “[t]he implementation of these Regulations shall be with full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons” to replace it with a nebulous confirmation that “[t]he implementation of these Regulations shall be based on the principles of equity, inclusivity, coherence…”.
Provisions requiring (my emphasis) – in particular – the WHO to develop fast-tracked regulatory guidelines for the “rapid” (aka relaxed) approval of a broad range of health products including vaccines, gene-based therapies, medical devices and diagnostics threatens, in the view of legal jurists, “long fought-for standards of medical law aiming to ensure safety and efficacy of medical products,” and should be of particular concern for parents.
Indeed, nothing in these documents would oblige the WHO to differentiate its binding directions for their impact on children, thus allowing for indiscriminate measures including mass testing, isolation, travel restrictions and vaccination – potentially of investigational and experimental products fast-tracked to accelerated approvals – being mandated for healthy pediatric populations on the basis of a real or “potential” health emergency declared unilaterally by the DG.
As if this weren’t troubling enough, what makes it more so is that, as Thomas Fazi writes, “the WHO has fallen largely under the control of private capital and other vested interests.” As he and others explain, the evolving funding structure of the organisation and in particular the influence of corporate organisations focusing on pandemic response solutions (predominantly, vaccines), has steered the WHO away from its original ethos of promoting a democratic, holistic approach to public health and towards corporatised commodity-based approaches which “generate profit for its private and corporate sponsors” (David Bell). Over 80 percent of the WHO’s budget is now ‘specified’ funding by way of voluntary contributions typically earmarked for specific projects or diseases in a way that the funder specifies.
“History can familiarise, and it should warn,” states the prologue to Timothy Snyder’s book, On Tyranny: Twenty Lessons from the Twentieth Century. If only we were minded to be taught, there would be lessons to be learned of how far down the path of tyranny pandemic authoritarianism has already taken us and of how, if the WHO’s plans proceed, the Covid pandemic may yet signal just the beginning.
“Anticipatory obedience is a political tragedy,” cautions Lesson One, and indeed it now would seem that the voluntary obedience given so heedlessly by global citizens in 2020-22 – to wear masks, to be locked down, to accept novel vaccinations. All of these measures, and more, now embedded in the proposals as potentially mandatory directives, binding on both Member States, and therefore on individual citizens.
“Defend institutions,” advises Lesson Two, for “institutions do not protect themselves,” a sobering reminder in light of the WHO’s self-designation in these proposals as the “guiding and coordinating authority of international public health response[s]:” a designation which would expressly elevate that organisation above national ministries of health and elected, sovereign parliaments.
Lesson Three, “Beware the one-party state,” reminds us that “parties that remade states and suppressed rivals were not omnipotent from the start.” The WHO does not masquerade as a political party but nor will it need to after ordaining itself as the exclusive global controller not just of the identification of pandemics and potential pandemics but of the design and execution of pandemic responses, while also granting itself a vast health surveillance network and a global workforce – funded in part by the taxpayers of the nations over whom it shall tower – commensurate with its new supreme status.
Remembering professional ethics – Lesson Five – would have been sage advice in 2020 but much though we might lament the abandonment of medical ethics from our vantage point of 2023 (“if doctors had accepted the rule of no surgery without consent,” rues Synder in relation to the tyranny of the 20th century) the WHO proposals would ensure that such deviations from foundational pillars of medical ethics – informed consent, disregard for human dignity, bodily autonomy, freedom from experimentation, even – can become an accepted norm, rather than an abhorrent exception.
Beware, warns Synder, of the “the sudden disaster that requires the end of checks and balances; …be alive to the fatal notions of emergency and exception.” Positioned as a necessary next step for achieving global public health coordination and cooperation, the WHO’s proposals would erect a permanent, global surveillance infrastructure and bureaucracy whose raison d’être will be to seek out and suppress health emergencies.
The funding for this network will originate from the private and corporate interests that stand to gain financially from the vaccine-based responses they envision, so the opportunities for private exploitation of public health crises will be huge. And, by broadening and bringing forward in time the circumstances in which those powers might be triggered – no longer is an ‘actual’ public health emergency required, merely the ‘potential’ for such an event, we can expect the threat of the exceptional state of emergency to become a semi-permanent feature of modern life.
“[B]elieve in truth” says Lesson Ten – for “to abandon facts is to abandon freedom,” apt indeed for our Orwellian era of doublethink, its slogans granted the status of religion and its ideology posing as integrity: “Be safe, be smart, be kind” (Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director General, 2020). What would Orwell make, one wonders, of the UK’s Counter Disinformation Unit and the US’s Ministry of Truth, or of proposals which not only permit but require the WHO to build institutional capacity to prevent the spread of misinformation and disinformation – and so anoint it as the single source of pandemic truth?
What would Hannah Arendt make of 2020-22’s intrusion of the State into the private lives of individuals and families and the ensuing prolonged periods of isolation and – through adopting forced isolation and segregation as respectful public health tools – the elevation of such destruction of private life to a globally accepted norm? “Take responsibility for the face of the world,” says Snyder in Lesson Four. Could there be any more potent symbol of society’s visible manifestations of loyalty to its new normal than the world’s masked faces of 2020-1?
“Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty” is a quote no less true for being incorrectly attributed to Jefferson, but having lived amongst the debris of failed Covid authoritarianism for three years. Perhaps we are too close now to understand how far from liberal democracy we’ve already fallen.
Even if one wholeheartedly agreed with the WHO’s focus on pandemic preparedness and the interventionist responses provoked, to grant such sweeping powers to a supranational organisation (let alone one individual within that), would be astonishing. That, as the pandemic response so brutally illustrated, the profit-optimised version of the greater good pursued by the WHO often clashes with child health and welfare, sets us up to commit a grotesque misdeed against our children and young people.
Snyder’s most important lesson might yet be “to stand out – the moment you set an example, the spell of the status quo is broken.” The UK has been sufficiently consumed with national sovereignty to pull out of the EU – a poster child for democracy compared to the unelected WHO; it would surely be unthinkable now to wave through proposals which would see the UK cede its sovereignty over key national health, social and economic policies to the WHO.