Intended to form part of international law, preparations for the creation of a World Health Organisation (“WHO”) Pandemic Treaty or Pandemic Accord began in 2001.
Far from strengthening the prevention of, preparedness for and response to future pandemics as the latest draft of the text claims, its implementation could severely undermine democracy by limiting the ability of national parliaments to make crucial healthcare decisions in the best interests of their citizens.
Aided by proposed amendments to the International Health Regulations of 2005, the Treaty threatens to transform the WHO into a global health dictatorship.
The WHO Pandemic Treaty and Amendments to the International Health Regulations: Enabling a Global Health Dictatorship
The sweeping influence exerted by WHO during the covid-19 pandemic was the result of revised International Health Regulations (“IHR”) passed at a meeting of the World Health Assembly (“WHA”) in 2005. The decision-making body of the WHO, the WHA’s meetings are held annually in Geneva, Switzerland, and attended by delegations from the WHO’s 194 Member States.
Prior to 2005, WHO had principally acted as a coordinator, assistant or collaborator to the public health services and drug regulatory authorities of its Member States. But with the passing of the revised IHR, WHO took on vast new powers that were unprecedented in the field of global health. These essentially enable it to decide when a public health emergency of international concern exists and to make key decisions regarding what measures should be implemented in response. Under the regulations, the WHO’s recommended actions can include vaccination, quarantine, isolation, drug treatment and contact tracing, among others.
Now, however, in the wake of the covid-19 pandemic, the road is being prepared for WHO’s already considerable powers to be expanded still further. Particularly worryingly, the latest draft of the proposed amendments to the regulations shows that clauses that previously made their provisions non-binding are being reworded – effectively making them mandatory and giving WHO real decision-making powers over its Member States. As such, claims that the planned Pandemic Treaty will not undermine national sovereignty are at best disingenuous, as its text has to be viewed in light of the increased authority that, if approved, will be given to WHO under the amended IHR.