CLAIM: The World Health Organization will have the power to regulate U.S. policies during a pandemic, including those on vaccinations, lockdowns, school closures, and more, according to a legally enforceable “pandemic pact”.
AP’S ASSESSMENT: False. The voluntary treaty, which is still in draught form and won’t be ratified for many years, does not preempt any country’s right to enact unique pandemic-related laws, according to numerous experts, including one engaged in the draught procedure, who spoke to The Associated Press. In terms of global cooperation on pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, the pact makes sweeping suggestions. Lockdowns, closures, or specific citizen surveillance methods are not referenced anywhere in the 30-page text.
THE FACTS: As the WHO meets on Monday to discuss the first draft of the treaty, social media users are misrepresenting the scope of the document to suggest signing onto it would cede U.S. rights to the international body.
“Biden is about to give the China-controlled W.H.O. power to control the United States.”
Conservative blogs and commentators also shared misleading information about what kind of actions the treaty would trigger.
“The Biden administration is in the process of finalizing a deal that would give the WHO near-total authority to dictate America’s policies during a pandemic,” read the caption of an Instagram post by The Epoch Times, which continued: “This includes vaccine policies, lockdown policies, school closure policies, the contact tracing of U.S. citizens, and even the monitoring of online speech if that speech goes against the official narrative.”
He’s been involved in the treaty’s draft process.
“WHO does not gain any power to override domestic policy decisions.”
The draft, also called a “zero draft,” is designed to protect the world from future pandemics, according to the WHO.
Beginning Feb. 27, the World Health Assembly’s intergovernmental negotiating body will have a chance to review the initial document.
The text lays out a vision for building greater equity and effectiveness in pandemic prevention, preparedness and response across the globe through international cooperation.
“It is false to claim that the World Health Organization has now, or will have by virtue of these activities, any authority to direct U.S. health policy or national health emergency response actions,” the agency wrote.
“Any associated actions at the national level will remain reserved to sovereign states, including the United States.”
And a separate section of the draft labelled “Sovereignty” clearly says that states have “the sovereign right to determine and manage their approach to public health, notably pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery of health systems, pursuant to their own policies and legislation, provided that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to their peoples and other countries.”
Nowhere in the 30-page document are the words lockdown, closures, contact tracing or online speech mentioned, nor are mentions of specific citizen surveillance systems.
Further, while the treaty, if ratified, would be considered a legally-binding document, there are effectively no legal consequences for signatories who fail to adhere to it or violate its terms, experts said.
Most of the treaty language is framed as things the signatories “should” do, rather than “must” do, he added.
Freedman also emphasized that the draft does not use “mandatory language,” but rather encouragements or recommendations.
“It should be noted that the US is far from agreeing to sign the Pandemic Treaty, and it will take many months, or longer, even to negotiate a text,” Gostin said, adding, “Even if the United States signs the treaty, it would not empower WHO to make any public health decisions in the US or in any other country.”
Dr James LeDuc, a professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch who worked on a different WHO group that evaluated some aspects of the global COVID-19 response, pointed out that, if the draught were to be adopted at all, it would probably go through a lengthy amendment process.
He added in an email that he hoped the draught zero of the proposed treaty would stimulate active worldwide discussion, but that it would probably take a long time for 194 sovereign nations to come to an agreement.
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Source: AP News