WHO’s proposed IHR amendments and Pandemic Treaty will create perverse incentives to declare pandemics

The World Health Organisation (“WHO”) will present two new texts for adoption by its governing body, the World Health Assembly, in Geneva on 27 May – 1 June.

The new Pandemic Treaty needs a two-thirds majority for approval and, if and once adopted, will come into effect after 40 ratifications. The amendments to the International Health Regulations (“IHR”) can be adopted by a simple majority and will be binding on all states unless they recorded reservations by the end of last year.

Note: WHO’s Pandemic Treaty is also referred to as the Pandemic Accord and WHO Convention Agreement + (“WHO CA+”).

WHO describes the IHR as “an instrument of international law that is legally binding” on its 196 states parties, including the 194 WHO member states, even if they voted against it. Therein lies its promise and its threat.

The new regime will change WHO from a technical advisory organisation into a supranational public health authority exercising quasi-legislative and executive powers over states; change the nature of the relationship between citizens, business enterprises, and governments domestically, and also between governments and other governments and WHO internationally; and shift the locus of medical practice from the doctor-patient consultation in the clinic to public health bureaucrats in capital cities and WHO headquarters in Geneva and its six regional offices.

From net zero to mass immigration and identity politics, the “expertocracy” elite is in alliance with the global technocratic elite against majority national sentiment. The Covid years gave the elites a valuable lesson in how to exercise effective social control and they mean to apply it across all contentious issues.   The changes to global health governance architecture must be understood in this light. It represents the transformation of the national security, administrative, and surveillance state into a globalised biosecurity state.

The IHR amendments will expand the situations that constitute a public health emergency, grant WHO additional emergency powers and extend state duties to build “core capacities” of surveillance to detect, assess, notify and report events that could constitute an emergency.

The existing language of “should” is replaced in many places by the imperative “shall,” of non-binding recommendations with countries will “undertake to follow” the guidance. And “full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons” will be changed to principles of “equity” and “inclusivity” with different requirements for rich and poor countries, bleeding financial resources and pharmaceutical products from industrialised to developing countries.

With a funding model where 87 per cent of the budget comes from voluntary contributions from rich countries and private donors like the Gates Foundation, and 77 per cent is for activities specified by them, WHO has effectively become a system of global public health patronage.

Human Rights Watch says the process has been “disproportionately guided by corporate demands and the policy positions of high-income governments seeking to protect the power of private actors in health including the pharmaceutical industry.”

The victims of this Catch-22 lack of accountability will be the peoples of the world.

Much of the new surveillance network in a model divided into pre-, in, and post-pandemic periods will be provided by private and corporate interests that will profit from the mass testing and pharmaceutical interventions. Article 15.2 of the draft pandemic treaty requires states to set up “no-fault vaccine-injury compensation schemes,” conferring immunity on Big Pharma against liability, thereby codifying the privatisation of profits and the socialisation of risks.

The changes would confer extraordinary new powers on WHO’s DG and regional directors and mandate governments to implement their recommendations. This will result in a major expansion of the international health bureaucracy under WHO.  For example, new implementation and compliance committees; shift the centre of gravity from the common deadliest diseases to relatively rare pandemic outbreaks (five including Covid in the last 120 years); and give WHO authority to direct resources (money, pharmaceutical products, intellectual property rights) to itself and other governments in breach of sovereign and copyright rights.

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