(by Kit Knightly | Off-Guardian) – The first public hearings on the proposed “Pandemic Treaty” are closed, with the next round due to start in mid-June.
We’ve been trying to keep this issue on our front page, entirely because the mainstream is so keen to ignore it and keep churning out partisan war porn and propaganda.
When we – and others – linked to the public submissions page, there was such a response that the WHO’s website actually briefly crashed, or they pretended it crashed so people would stop sending them letters.
Either way, it’s a win. Hopefully one we can replicate in the summer.
Until then, the signs are that what scant press coverage there is, mostly across the metaphorical back-pages of the internet, will be focused on making the treaty “strong enough” and ensuring national governments can be “held accountable”.
An article in the UK’s Telegraph from April 12th headlines:
Real risk a pandemic treaty could be ‘too watered down’ to stop new outbreaks
It focuses on a report from the Panel for a Global Public Health Convention (GPHC), and quotes one of the report’s authors Dame Barbara Stocking:
Our biggest fear […] is it’s too easy to think that accountability doesn’t matter. To have a treaty that does not have compliance in it, well frankly then there’s no point in having a treaty,”
The GPHC report goes on to say that the current International Health Regulations are “too weak”, and calls for the creation of a new “independent” international body to “assess government preparedness” and “publicly rebuke or praise countries, depending on their compliance with a set of agreed requirements”.
Another article, published by the London School of Economics and co-written by members of the German Alliance on Climate Change and Health (KLUG), also pushes the idea of “accountability” and “compliance” pretty hard:
For this treaty to have teeth, the organisation that governs it needs to have the power – either political or legal – to enforce compliance.
It also echoes the UN report from May 2021 in calling for more powers for the WHO:
In its current form, the WHO does not possess such powers […]To move on with the treaty, WHO therefore needs to be empowered — financially, and politically.
It recommends the involvement of “non-state actors” such as the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organisation and International Labour Organisation in the negotiations, and suggests the treaty offer financial incentives for the early reporting of “health emergencies” [emphasis added]:
In case of a declared health emergency, resources need to flow to countries in which the emergency is occurring, triggering response elements such as financing and technical support. These are especially relevant for LMICs, and could be used to encourage and enhance the timely sharing of information by states, reassuring them that they will not be subject to arbitrary trade and travel sanctions for reporting, but instead be provided with the necessary financial and technical resources they require to effectively respond to the outbreak.
It doesn’t stop there, however. They also raise the question of countries being punished for “non-compliance”:
[The treaty should possess] An adaptable incentive regime, [including] sanctions such as public reprimands, economic sanctions, or denial of benefits.
To translate these suggestions from bureaucrat into English:
- If you report “disease outbreaks” in a “timely manner”, you will get “financial resources” to deal with them.
- If you don’t report disease outbreaks, or don’t follow the WHO’s directions, you will lose out on international aid and face trade embargoes and sanctions.
In combination, these proposed rules would literally incentivize reporting possible “disease outbreaks”. Far from preventing “future pandemics”, they would actively encourage them. Read Full Article >