What Does the WHO’s Pandemic Treaty Really Do?
Nothing. And everything.
Social media has been abuzz with terrifying news about a new Pandemic Treaty (officially the “Zero draft report of the Working Group on Strengthening WHO Preparedness and Response to Health Emergencies to the Seventy-fifth World Health Assembly”) currently being deliberated by the members of the World Health Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.
According to some commentators, the treaty “risks superseding parliamentary democracy, public health laws and human rights within 194 countries.” “If the WHO pandemic treaty is signed,” writes another commentator, “your vote will never ever count again.”
As the author of Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World, I’m not going to complain about the alarmism, as all these comments seem to be implicit endorsements of my work. But the good news is that’s not what the Pandemic Treaty really does.
What does the Pandemic Treaty actually change? Nothing, really. The treaty contains 131 proposals in ten broad categories: 1. Political leadership, 2. Cooperation and collaboration, 3. WHO at the center, 4. Financing, 5. Sustainability of COVID-19 innovative mechanisms, 6. Global surveillance, 7. Strengthening the International Health Regulations, 8. Universal health and preparedness review pilot, 9. Travel measures. 10. Equity.
The proposals are technical and banal. More funding for the WHO “to act as the directing and coordinating authority on international health.” Regular simulation exercises. More research to “inform and expand” public health and social measures during pandemics. More capacity for genomic testing. More sharing of public health data with the WHO. Digital vaccination certificates and contact tracing. More vaccines for developing countries.
Technically, none of this is binding on member nations. The consultants behind the Pandemic Treaty even cite “national sovereignty” as a limitation on the treaty’s effect.
Of all the proposals, the most immediately alarming is the plan to strengthen “approaches to and capacities for information and infodemic management… in order to build public trust in data, scientific evidence and public health measures and to counter inaccurate information and unsubstantiated rumours.” This particular provision involves private, supranational organizations and therefore does bypass national sovereignty.
In other words, the Pandemic Treaty is everything the WHO has already been doing—but more of it. So what’s actually at stake if the treaty is passed?
The real significance of the Pandemic Treaty is that its passage is a ratification and approval of everything the world has experienced over the past two years during COVID-19. A brief refresher on those events.
In January 2020, reports began to emerge of a novel virus in Wuhan, China. On January 23, 2020, the Chinese Communist Party implemented a total lockdown of 50 million residents in Hubei Province. This concept of “lockdown” had no precedent in the western world. But just days later, on January 30, 2020, reports began to emerge that, unbeknownst to the public, “the WHO is already talking about how ‘problematic’ modeling the Chinese response in Western countries is going to be, and the first country they want to try it out in is Italy…they want to work through the Italian authorities and world health organizations to begin locking down Italian cities.”
Soon, the entire world was indeed “modeling the Chinese response.” One by one, local and national officials began suspending the rights of their populations wholesale. These lockdowns weren’t part of any country’s pandemic plan, but their approval by the WHO and the mimesis of other international officials gave the policy a cosmopolitan veneer.
Lockdowns failed to stop the virus—which was subsequently proven to have an infection fatality rate under 0.2% and to have begun spreading by November 2019 at the latest—in every country in which they were tried. However, they did lead to the largest man-made famine since the Great Leap Forward. In every country that employed strict lockdowns, deaths were disproportionately high among young people; these were lockdown deaths.
Simultaneously, the WHO issued global PCR testing guidance—using tests later confirmed by the New York Times to have a false positive rate over 85%—pursuant to which millions of cases were soon discovered in every country. Additionally, the WHO issued new guidance on the use of mechanical ventilators to member nations; over 97% of those over age 65 who received mechanical ventilation in accordance with this guidance were killed.
Terrified by this surge of deaths and the psychological terror campaigns deployed by governments on their own people, populations across the western world proceeded to impose an ever-darker swathe of illiberal mandates including forced masking and digital vaccine passes for everyday activities. Young children, who were at virtually no risk from the virus, lost years of primary education, and many were forced to wear masks for hours each day.
By signing onto the Pandemic Treaty, our leaders are signaling their approval for all this—and more—to be done again. Take heart: The Pandemic Treaty won’t annul your national sovereignty. That would be impossible, because you haven’t had any national sovereignty since March 2020. The Pandemic Treaty is simply a reelection for another term.
Michael P Senger is an attorney and author of Snake Oil: How Xi Jinping Shut Down the World.