As the deadline approaches for the 194 member nations of the World Health Organization (WHO) to sign agreements granting broad new powers to this U.N. subsidiary, its advocates are turning up the heat on member countries to get on board, despite growing resistance to the deal.

On March 20, WHO Ambassador and former socialist-left UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown hailed a campaign by a “100+ pantheon of global leaders” urging member nations to sign.

“A high-powered intervention by 23 former national Presidents, 22 former Prime Ministers, a former UN General Secretary, and 3 Nobel Laureates is being made today to press for an urgent agreement from international negotiators on a Pandemic Accord, under the Constitution of the World Health Organization, to bolster the world’s collective preparedness and response to future pandemics,” stated a press release from the office of Gordon and Sarah Brown.

Critics say the WHO has studiously avoided calling the agreement a treaty because treaties typically require approval from national legislatures, and in the case of the United States by two-thirds of the Senate.

What has instead been deemed the Pandemic Accord, together with amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR), is scheduled to be approved in Geneva, Switzerland, at the World Health Assembly’s annual meeting on May 27–June 1.

One of the primary concerns that critics have raised is that countries would cede authority to the WHO once that organization declares a “health emergency.” WHO advocates, however, say such concerns are unfounded and giving voice to them could jeopardize the approval process.

Georgetown University law professor Lawrence Gostin, who helped draft the Accord, said that the treaty uses terms like “should,” indicating suggestions, rather than “must,” to underscore that the WHO remains a consultative rather than an authoritative body.

However, the language in the March 13 draft of the treaty appears to be compulsory, stating throughout the document that “the Parties commit to …” and “the Parties shall …” with the word “shall” used more than 160 times.

In addition, the IHR amendments state that member states “recognize WHO as the guidance and coordinating authority of international public health response during a public health Emergency of International Concern and undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations in their international public health response.”

Other areas of concern regarding sovereignty include a directive that “health measures” stipulated by the WHO “shall be initiated and completed without delay by all Parties” and that “State Parties shall also take measures to ensure Non-State-Actors operating in their respective territories comply with such measures.”

In addition, references to the documents being “non-binding” on member states were removed.

“They are trying to make out that this is some mild ‘feel-good’ agreement that won’t really affect anyone and therefore doesn’t need to go to national legislatures,” Dr. David Bell a public health physician who formerly worked with the WHO on infectious disease diagnostics, told The Epoch Times. Dr. Bell has been tracking the progress of the agreements with a critical eye.

2022 petition signed by 15 US state attorneys-general argues that the HHS could have an unprecedented level of authority once the WHO declares a health emergency.

“Allowing an international organization to determine when public health emergencies exist in the United States necessarily allows that organization to use police powers that were neither given to it or to the federal government by the States,” the AGs stated, calling it “an extreme violation of both State and federal sovereignty.”

During a health emergency, the state AGs wrote, “HHS may provide for the apprehension and examination of individuals in certain infected states. Upon recommendation of the HHS Secretary, the President of the United States may also authorize the detention of individuals under certain circumstances.”

Another concern, critics say, is that the process of signing over new powers to the WHO has been needlessly rushed and avoids the public discussions and debates that should be part of the process when countries enter into treaties.

According to a report by a research group at the University of Leeds in the UK, co-authored by Dr. Bell, “Pandemic risk is characterized as an ‘existential threat to humanity’ and is being used to justify proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations and a new legally binding Pandemic Agreement.”

But the report argues that, based on the WHO’s own data, the evidence does not support the urgent need for, or the benefits of, giving more power to the WHO.

What the WHO claims is an escalating frequency of pandemics can be largely explained by improved diagnostic testing in recent decades, the authors say, nor is the proposed remedy of centralizing pandemic response within the WHO justified by objective facts.

“They require countries to comply because they’re saying that, during COVID countries didn’t act fast enough, and therefore they have to be told what to do,” Dr. Bell said. But the WHO has not explained how, if it had the authority it is now seeking, it would have saved more lives.

“The whole narrative that they need this at all is not supported by any evidence that they put forward,” he said.

Many policy analysts have argued that the WHO’s actions during COVID-19 did little to help the public and may have even exacerbated the crisis.

“The WHO should have played an important role in sharing information with member nations during a global pandemic, but instead it demonstrated that it could not and would not share information in a timely and accurate manner,” the US state AGs wrote in their petition. “Instead of reporting public health information, the WHO chose to repeat Chinese propaganda regarding COVID.”

The WHO agreements also require that billions of dollars be paid to the WHO by member nations to enable it to carry out its new duties.

“This agenda is supported by unprecedented annual financial requests,” the Leeds University report states, including $36 billion in new member contributions and an additional $10 billion for what the WHO calls “One Health” interventions.

One Health, as defined in the Pandemic Agreement, is “an integrated, unifying approach that aims to sustainably balance and optimize the health of people, animals, and ecosystems.” A One Health approach could effectively expand the authority of health officials into areas such as farming, pollution, and climate change.

In response to the pandemic treaty, several U.S. states have taken steps to ensure that state authority is not superseded by the WHO agreements.

In May 2023, Florida passed a law that state health officials “may not adopt, implement, or enforce an international health organization’s public health policies or guidelines unless authorized to do so under state law, rule, or executive order issued by the Governor.”

“In this bill we formally reject WHO and any of these international organizations,” Governor Ron DeSantis stated.

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Looking ahead to the World Health Assembly meeting next month, critics say that in addition to circumventing legislative approval by member states, the WHO may be running afoul of its own procedures to get the documents signed this year.

“It looks very likely that they won’t be able to agree on, certainly the pandemic agreement, and probably the IHR, before the deadline,” Dr. Bell said.

“Countries have not been given the time to assess how the agreements will impact their budgets, resources, and health systems, or the extent to which they are able to comply with terms”, he said.

Dr. Meryl Nass, a physician who has been critical of the WHO, said that several countries, including New Zealand, Slovakia, and the Netherlands, have raised serious concerns about the agreements. And too many corners may have been cut to get the new health deal approved this spring, she said.

The WHO constitution “is very specific about what kinds of regulations the WHO can issue, and they’re limited,” Dr. Nass told The Epoch Times. “What has been put into the IHR amendments goes way beyond what they’re allowed to issue as regulations and would need to be issued as a treaty.”

The issue really comes down to whether we can trust WHO and, in particular, its Director-General, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

Given his political background and actions at the commencement of the Covid-19 pandemic, trusting him would not seem to be at all appropriate.

Dr Tedros – who has never practised as a medical doctor – is a career politician who was born in what is now Eritrea, began work under the Communist Derg junta, went to study in the UK, then rose to the top of Ethiopia’s government first as Health Minister and then Foreign Minister before being elected to lead the WHO in 2017.

He has faced heavy criticism over his handling of the pandemic, especially for the praise he heaped on China‘s Communist Party for its response – hailing the regime’s ‘commitment to transparency’ and saying the speed with which it detected the virus was ‘beyond words’.

Tedros’ absurd comments show he is totally unworthy of the power he desires.

Thanks to Kevin Stocklin writing for NTD and The Epoch Times and cartoonist Johannes Leak.