12 May 2022 | Currently, the World Health Organization, the EU, and the other WHO member states are negotiating a global pandemic treaty. A proposal from Washington to dis-empower national governments under the International Health Regulations (IHR) indicates where the journey is headed. It is to be voted on at the end of May. The main beneficiaries would be large international corporations in two industries.
The World Health Assembly (WHA) is made up of the health ministers of the nearly 200 member countries of the World Health Organization (WHO). It is the forum that sets the rules and guidelines for WHO’s operations. A US proposal to amend the International Health Regulations (IHR) is scheduled to be voted on at the May 22-28 World Health Assembly.
The proposal was sent to WHO member countries by the WHO Director General as early as January 20. However, the proposal was only made available to the public on April 12, and in a way that hardly anybody took notice. Mainstream media coverage is virtually nonexistent. I became aware of it through a May 8 report by the independent Austrian news portal tkp.at, which in turn learned of it only through a May 4 report by the portal America Out Loud.
The US proposal is characterized throughout by changes that would empower the WHO to declare health emergencies for countries and regions without involvement or consent of the respective governments, and to dictate countermeasures, even including the deployment of foreign teams of experts.
According to a statement by U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services, Loyce Pace, to the WHA Executive Board “more than 40” countries support the reform proposal. Exactly how many there are, and whether they include all or only most EU countries, is not entirely clear, as the list of supporting countries simply says “member countries of the EU.” The 19 countries listed beside (most or all?) EU-countries are Albania, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, India, Jamaica, Japan, Monaco, Montenegro, Norway, Peru, Korea, Switzerland, UK, USA and Uruguay.
The proposed changes analyzed below to increase the power of the WHO should be considered in light of the discussion already underway that negative sanctions should be imposed on countries that are allegedly not cooperating sufficiently with the WHO.
Dis-empowerment of governments and parliaments
In Article 6 on reporting incidents to the WHO, the US wants to add that the assessment of a reported incident by the government of the affected country must happen within two days. Once the assessment is done, the government should have 24 hours to pass it on to the WHO, as is the rule now. This means that just three days after, for example, someone dies for an unexplained, potentially epidemically relevant reason, the government must turn itself over, for better or worse, to the WHO, which may put the country on pariah status by issuing a global warning and potentially cause massive damage to tourism and other sectors of the economy.
Article 9 on the use of other sources of information stipulates that WHO action, such as issuing a warning, can be based on information from third parties about a suspected incident in a country. Here, the requirement that the WHO must consult the affected country before taking action based on information from third parties is to be deleted.
Article 10 on verification of third party information regulates the participation of affected governments in the verification of incidents reported by third parties. Here, the US wants to impose that the WHO has only 24 hours to request the affected member country to verify the incident reported by a third party, while offering assistance in assessing the incident. The affected government again has only one day to verify the incident and to accept or decline the offer of assistance, as well as to send all available information on the incident.
If the government rejects the assistance imposed by the WHO, the WHO would be required to immediately inform all member governments about the incident and the rejection, and at the same time renew its offer of assistance. Currently, this is an optional provision. The current requirement to first consult the government of the affected country is to be deleted.
Article 11 on information by the WHO regulates the conditions under which the WHO may or must inform other member countries and organizations about a health incident. Here, a provision is to be added to the existing concrete preconditions, which makes a mockery of the other criteria: even if the listed objective preconditions are not met, the WHO should still be able to place the country in the international health pillory if the Director General deems it necessary for whatever reason.
The government concerned should only be informed in advance, instead of being heard as currently. As soon as something about an incident has become generally public, the WHO should also have to make its own information about it generally public, instead of only being allowed to do so according to the current version of the rules. The fact that something about an incident becomes public can hardly be prevented with almost 200 informed governments and, if someone has an interest in it, it can be arranged very easily.
Article 12 on the declaration of health emergencies has so far only dealt with public health emergencies of international concern. Here, “emergencies of regional concern” and the “Intermediate Health Alerts” are added.
According to the US proposal, it would be enough that the WHO Director General suspects a potential public health emergency of international concern, for him to have to inform all member governments. This would be new. Currently, he has to consult the government concerned instead. Under the proposal, he would only have to “attempt” to do so. In the future, he would not have to wait for a response. Currently, he has to try for 48 hours to get the government’s consent to the declaration of a health emergency. If he does not succeed, he must refer the case to a commission of experts and make his decision on the basis of their opinion. In the future, he should only obtain this opinion after he has already made his decision.
The newly added possibility of issuing an Intermediate Health Alert because of an incident, would be entirely under the WHO Director General’s discretion. The warning would then go out to all member governments.
In addition, each WHO Regional Director would be given the discretion to determine that an incident constitutes a regional health emergency and to inform all the governments of the region accordingly. They would be able to do this before or after the WHO Director-General has been informed and in turn informs all member governments.
Prior to the declaration of these new types of health emergencies, no consultation, or even prior information, of the governments of the countries that may be massively affected by them, is required or even recommended.
In Article 13 on health measures, the WHO‘s “cooperation” with the affected government would be changed into an offer of “assistance” by the WHO. This offer would also become automatic because the phrase “at the request of the government” is deleted. If the government does not accept this offer of assistance within two days, it must justify this to all other WHO member governments.
“Mobilization of international support” and an assessment of the adequacy of national countermeasures are to be among the offers of assistance that the WHO will be required to make in the future, and which the addressees may only refuse with good cause. The norm thus becomes that the WHO and other governments (the U.S., for example) may intervene in a country’s health response from the outset.
Article 15, on “temporary recommendations,” is where the concept of “deployment of expert teams” is introduced into the IHR, according to the US proposal.
A new Chapter IV on the “Compliance Committee” sets out how this newly created committee is to assess and help enforce governments’ compliance with WHO rules. It is to consist of six government representatives from each WHO region and to submit an annual report. If possible, the committee is to decide by consensus. But if there is none, each member government has the option of writing a minority opinion into the report.
Thus, any government (e.g., the U.S. government) can accuse any other of breaking WHO rules and make that public if a government fails to implement WHO or committee recommendations, such as letting a committee fact-finding team work in its country.
In Article 59 on objections, the period within which individual governments can object to these planned and possibly majority-approved rule changes would be shortened from 18 months to six. This means that the possibility for governments to object to the application of this far-reaching relinquishment of national autonomy to their countries, would be exhausted by the time the global pandemic treaty will most likely be adopted in 2024. Governments, therefore, cannot wait to object in order to see what is to come. If, for example, they now rely on the fact that they can still say no to WHO recommendations, but the pandemic treaty later introduces sanctions for countries that do not implement the International Health Regulations, it would be too late to object to the tightening of these regulations.
The threat of a pharma-dictatorship
What the U.S. has in mind here is an authorization for the WHO to immediately take the reins out of the hands of national governments in the event of an actual or alleged health risk from a pathogen and to be able to determine the assessment of the situation and the countermeasures. The US and their allies in this, the EU and Switzerland, are home to most of the major global pharmaceutical companies, To be sure, governments would retain the right to say no. However, this right is greatly devalued by the fact that they can then immediately be pilloried worldwide, either by the WHO or by a single, powerful government, such as that of the USA.
Should it come to the point that the informal sanctions would be augmented by formal sanctions against non-cooperative governments – which is almost to be expected – the governments of all countries, except the strongest, will hardly be able to defend themselves against having foreign teams of experts sent into their country to determine what has to happen.
This dis-empowerment of governments is made all the more dangerous by the fact that the WHO Director-General is allowed to decide on his own authority, based on extremely vague and elastic criteria, when a health emergency of international relevance is declared.
Moreover, the intention, often and clearly expressed by powerful players such as Johns Hopkins University and Bill Gates, to make standard mass testing of all people against all possible known and as yet unknown pathogens the norm, must be taken into the picture. It will then, with the appropriate will, be no problem at all to declare a potential health emergency. With intensive search, new pathogens will often be found that could become dangerous, but by no means have to.
But who could have an interest in declaring health emergencies and initiating – possibly unnecessary – countermeasures. You don’t have to look far for that. Just think of the swine flu “pandemic,” for which the criteria for declaring a pandemic had previously been stripped of the requirement of a large number of deaths. It brought the pharmaceutical companies billions in sales for useless and in some cases dangerous drugs and vaccinations; not to mention the multi-billion profits from the Corona pandemic.
The big Silicon Valley IT corporations will again be at the forefront of the profiteers when contact tracing, the use of digital vaccination cards and, above all, the digitization of the entire health care system are “recommended” in order to contain an actual or alleged health threat.
Since the WHO has been made highly dependent on donations from big corporations and their governmental and non-governmental lobbyists and foundations, it is never far to suspect that its actions take into account the interest of the corporations as a secondary or even main condition. What could be better for these than if the WHO or the USA, or the EU, in the case of the discovery of a new pathogen in any country, can immediately send teams of experts to that region to “recommend”, for example, a mass vaccination with a vaccine from big pharmaceutical companies of the USA or the EU.
Besides, it could serve as an additional geopolitical power tool to be able to threaten weak countries to inflate any pathogen discovered in this country into an international health threat and thus ruin the country’s economy.
Conclusion: Governments that agree to this tightening of international health regulations want to put us even more under the control of the big pharmaceutical and IT corporations. The fact that, until only days before they are to be voted on, no government has publicized and publicly discussed the reform they support suggests that they do not have the welfare of the people in mind and therefore fear headwinds.