The Biden Amendments at the WHO Are Still Active

May 26, 2022

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Earlier this week at the 75th World Health Assembly (WHA) meeting in Geneva, Switzerland, it appeared that 12 of the 13 amendments presented by the Biden administration were temporarily paused. However, the United States’ representative is still pushing the amendments to pass before the session ends on May 28. The amendments would empower the World Health Organization (WHO) to unilaterally declare a “public health emergency” for any reason. 

On January 18, 2022, officials from the Biden administration quietly sent the WHO the original 13 amendments to the current International Health Regulations without an official statement or a single press conference. These were not made public until April 12, 2022, when an independent researcher discovered them on March 31. The proposed amendments, in combination with the existing ones, enables Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus and any future Director-General to have unrestricted powers to define and then implement their interventions and to declare “health emergencies” at will.   

After 12 of those 13 amendments could not immediately reach a consensus,  a new document dated May 24, was created, “Conference Page 7,” which includes the last amendment of the original 13 and adds additional amendments.

On May 25, in regards to those current proposed amendments, the presiding president of the World Health Assembly stated during the Sixth Committee A Session starting at 2:34:44, “…in reference to Conference Page 7, ‘Strengthening WHO preparedness for and response to health emergencies,: Proposal for amendments to the International Health Regulations,’ further discussion seems to be needed. With your permission and for transparency purposes, I will ask the secretary to share by email the outcome of the discussions today on behalf of the co-sponsors. I will also ask the secretary to make a room available for further discussions.” 

It appears that instead of using the actual majority vote of the 194 delegates, there seems to be “backroom discussions” occurring in order to persuade those countries that are objecting to the amendments. In fact, it is possible that the original amendments are, in fact, still in these discussions as well. 

In addition, on May 24, a U.S. representative of the United States implied that the Biden administration is still trying to push his 13 amendments to be passed. The US representative gave this presentation at the WHO World Health Assembly Agenda 16.2: Int'l Health Regulation Amendments, Comm. A, 3rd:

“The United States supports the ongoing efforts to strengthen WHO and make it more agile, transparent and effective. Going forward, we have collectively developed a plan to analyze and build consensus on important amendments to the Internal Health Regulations of 2005 to strengthen the instrument and improve implementation, compliance and effectiveness. On behalf of the United States and our co-sponsors, we have proposed resolution containing conference paper A75 A-7 to amend IHR Article 59 in order to make the instrument more agile and responsive to technological communications or other developments. This resolution is an expression of Member-State consensus to reduce the period for entry into force for any amendments to the IHR from the current 24 months to 12 months. We are mindful of the importance of respecting national sovereignty and the ability of domestic authorities to make health decisions in their territory which is inherent in the IHR. The IHR depends on and reinforces the sovereignty of member-states to take appropriate health measures and fight diseases together. It is essential that states' parties comply with the legally binding commitments undertaken when the IHR was revised over 15 years ago. Strengthening the IHR will provide an immediate and tangible step forward in demonstrating to the world that we are learning from the challenges we have faced battling COVID-19 and working to improve the global health architecture systems and tools to prevent and prepare for the next response to the pandemic to come. Improving and modernizing the IHR is critical to ensuring the world is better prepared for and can respond to the next pandemic. There is no greater duty for governments than keeping their citizens safe and free from danger. This includes health threats that can so easily move across borders and spread across the globe in a matter of days and weeks. COVID-19 demonstrates that we must do better in working with each other and communicating effectively when risks are detected. Failure in this regard is not acceptable. The United States of America looks forward to working with member-states to move forward on this important issue, strengthening our collective ability to prevent, detect and respond to future pandemics in making real progress toward the next one. The United States commends the WHO for its efforts to support the implementation of the IHR amidst the many challenges of COVID-19 and we look forward to continuing our critical work together with WHO and member-states to strengthen and further our current response to build a safer more secure and be better prepared for the future.” 

Liberty Counsel Founder and Chairman Mat Staver stated, “Amendments to give the World Health Organization unprecedented authority to declare a public health emergency could be passed in the blink of an eye when no one is paying attention. The WHO must not become the global authority on public health issuing directives influenced by its funding stakeholders that impact the sovereignty of independent nations. We cannot hand America’s sovereignty over to the WHO.” 

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