Fewer than 24 Hours Remain to Comment on Proposed Expansion of Global Authority
Press Release: September 12, 2022
UPDATE: The deadline has now been extended until Friday September 16 at 11:59 CET.
On Friday, September 9, 2022, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the promised public hearing on a new pandemic treaty would begin immediately and conclude on the following Tuesday, September 13. The announcement was made after two-thirds of the world’s population was already home for the weekend.
This second and final round of public hearings is entirely virtual and will only consider brief and “appropriate” video submissions on how to “better protect against future pandemics.” Statements outside of that scope “will not be receivable.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted every person on this planet,” said Patrice Pederson, President of the First Freedom Foundation. “It has taken millions of lives, destroyed livelihoods, and shattered mental health. In addition, governments across the globe have massively constrained basic human rights. I urge everyone — from those mourning the loss of their loved ones to kids falling behind in school — to contribute to this process. The WHO needs to know that the world is watching.”
The new treaty (WHO CAII) would be a dramatic expansion of power for the WHO. The phrase “whole of government and whole of society” appears, with some variation, nineteen times in the working draft. This “all-encompassing” approach includes “social determinants of health… including, but not limited to economic growth, employment, trade, transport, gender inequality, education, food insecurity, nutrition, and culture.” And in case that list is insufficiently comprehensive, their definition of “One Health” includes humans, animals, and the planet.
Some of the more controversial provisions of the draft treaty include, “robust… multisectoral, coordinated, integrated One Health surveillance systems” to monitor said humans, animals, and the planet. The treaty also creates “obligations from developed to developing countries” including “universal health coverage,” with the WHO managing the collection and distribution of payments from wealthy to poor nations. They also seek to “manage public information” to tackle “infodemics.”
As it stands, the draft treaty augments the WHO’s power in a manner that resembles dictatorships more than democracies. At one point it states that the WHO will “delegate authority during pandemics to local governments.” Democratic governments consider legitimate authority to be delegated the other way around — coming from the people, and then lent to elected representatives. Currently there is no mechanism for the people to hold the WHO accountable.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO has been widely criticized for lacking transparency and being overly deferential to the Chinese Communist Party, among other things. Without apology or explanation of what they would do differently, they are now seeking more money and more power to do more of the same. For example, whatever the origins of the current pandemic, the world has learned how easily a lab leak can occur, and how devastating the consequences can be. But rather than banning gain of function research, this treaty draft on pandemic prevention calls to “accelerate innovative research for novel pathogens.”
The First Freedom Foundation encourages everyone to participate in this public hearing. Contributors are also invited to email a copy of their transcript to pandemictreaty[at]firstfreedomfoundation.org to ensure that the WHO keeps its commitment to post all qualifying statements on their website, and include a variety of opinions in a compilation. If divergent views are excluded, the First Freedom Foundation will produce their own compilation and distribute it to WHO member-states.
Pederson said, “Free speech, like freedom of religion or belief, is a basic human right. But if we don’t use it we may lose it. Please post your statement to the pandemic treaty public hearing today.”
To submit your statement, go to https://inb.who.int/home/public-hearings/second-round.
To view the treaty draft, visit https://apps.who.int/gb/inb/pdf_files/inb2/A_INB2_3-en.pdf.