BY Benjamin ClarkMay 13, 2024
2 months ago
BY 
 | May 13, 2024
2 months ago

State AGs Urge Biden To Resist WHO's Expanded Authority In Pandemic Response

A coalition of 22 state attorneys general, spearheaded by Montana Attorney General Austin Knudsen, has voiced concerns over potential new powers for the World Health Organization (WHO).

According to a report from Daily Caller, these attorneys general have formally addressed President Joe Biden, advocating against expanding the WHO’s authority. They fear such changes could undermine national sovereignty and introduce global surveillance systems.

The group expressed their apprehensions through a detailed letter warning that the amendments could transform the WHO into an authoritative global health body.

The letter outlined that these changes would significantly alter the decision-making and implementation of public health policies worldwide, potentially impacting the United States' control over its own health policies.

Constitutional Concerns Highlighted By AGs

The letter emphasizes that the U.S. Constitution allocates health policy powers to individual states, not the federal government.

The state attorneys general argue that even if such powers were vested at the federal level, transferring them to an international organization like the WHO would require approval by the United States Senate as per Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution.

These concerns are deepened by suspicions of the WHO's possible endeavor to establish a global surveillance infrastructure. This has exacerbated fears about privacy and the monitoring of citizens on a global scale.

The attorneys general are adamant that empowering the WHO in such a manner could lead to infringements on civil liberties, especially given the perceived shortcomings in the organization’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Senate Involvement and WHO Amendments

This isn’t the first instance of governmental pushback against expanded WHO powers. Previously, some GOP senators had also reached out to President Biden with similar concerns. The unfolding debate reveals a growing tension between national sovereignty and international health collaboration.

The controversial amendments are due for discussion at the upcoming World Health Assembly, which is scheduled for May 27 to June 1. Concerns among the member states might lead to a postponement of the vote on these amendments to allow more time for thorough deliberation.

As highlighted in reports by healthcare foundation KFF, the Biden administration had previously shown support for finalizing these amendments by May. This positions the administration in contrast to the state attorneys' views.

Global Health Equity and WHO's Stance

WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has advocated for the amendments, stating they would help build a more equitable global response to pandemics. Dr. Tedros emphasizes that the amendments will strengthen communication, financing, and oversight during health crises.

According to the WHO, these enhancements are meant to improve preparedness and response times worldwide, especially in regions that struggle with healthcare infrastructure.

The crux of the WHO’s argument for amendment centers on creating a fairer and more evenly distributed health management system among its member states. However, the proposed requirement for countries to cooperate in combating misinformation and disinformation during health emergencies remains one of the contentious aspects of the proposed powers.

Final Opposition Stance of State AGs

The state attorneys general's collective stance is firmly against allowing the WHO to set or influence public policy directly or indirectly through these amendments.

They argue that past events, notably during the COVID-19 pandemic, have shown that the WHO breached public trust and thus cannot be accorded more authority.

"The COVID-19 pandemic exposed fundamental flaws with the WHO and other public health institutions. These entities breached public trust and are unquestionably in need of reform," states the attorney general's letter.

In conclusion, the coalition of state AGs asserts their intention to resist any measures that might position the WHO as a direct or indirect policymaker for U.S. citizens. With potential discussions and votes approaching at the World Health Assembly, the global and national political landscapes are poised for possible shifts in how health crises might be managed in the future.

Written by: Benjamin Clark

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