Dick Morris: Would the WHO Pandemic Treaty Override US Sovereignty?

The World Health Assembly, the decision-making body of the World Health Organization, is drafting a pandemic treaty to regulate the global response to any new epidemic. The Mises Institute reported that the treaty will “permit the WHO to unilaterally determine what measures will be imposed in response to these future declared pandemics, including lockdown policies, mandatory masking, social distancing, and coercing the population into undergoing medical treatments and vaccinations.” The Associated Press, in a fact-check based largely on the WHO’s rebuttal to those claims, presented a much more benign view of the treaty and the powers it confers. The AP reported that the treaty “lays out broad recommendations related to international cooperation on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. Nowhere in the 30-page document are lockdowns, closures or specific citizen surveillance systems mentioned.” So which is right? The answer cannot be found in the draft text of the treaty. To determine its meaning, we have to read it in the context of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, signed by the world’s nations on May 23, 1969. The Vienna Convention, the basic international law governing international treaties — including this one — makes it clear that the pandemic treaty cannot be treated as the toothless tiger the AP claims it will be. Article 11 of the Vienna Convention provides that “the consent of a State to be bound by a treaty may be expressed by signature, exchange of instruments constituting a treaty, ratification, acceptance, approval or accession, or by any other means if so agreed.” So, even without Senate ratification, the U.S. would be, in the words of the Vienna Convention, “bound” if a U.S. president or representative signs the treaty. At that point, the U.S. would be deemed to have “provisionally” signed the treaty and, as Article 27 of the Vienna Convention provides, “a party [i.e. a nation] may not invoke the provisions of its internal law as justification for its failure to perform a treaty.” The current draft of the treaty recognizes the rights of sovereign nations 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.” But then comes the kicker. The treaty conditions this recognition of sovereignty “provided that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to their peoples and other countries.” Since viruses do not respect national boundaries, their spread is bound to run afoul of other countries and their peoples. A major part of the proposed pandemic treaty concerns what it calls “equity.” The treaty commits its members to contribute jointly to the development of vaccines and treatments and makes them pledge not to use intellectual property protections to stop other countries and companies from sharing the results of their research. Why are pharma companies going to fund the massive research required to develop a vaccine against a new pandemic if they are not going to profit from the end product? To address concerns about equity, the treaty draft commits developed countries (meaning us) “to real-time access by WHO to 20% of the production of safe, efficacious and effective pandemic-related products, including diagnostics, vaccines, personal protective equipment and therapeutics, to enable equitable distribution, in particular to developing countries, according to public health risk and need and national plans that identify priority populations.” The Heritage Foundation reported that half of the 20 percent is to be provided as a donation and the other half at “affordable prices.” American taxpayers and their legislative representatives are to have no choice in the matter. Why the U.S. should hamstring itself in responding to another pandemic by committing to the jurisdiction of the WHO is beyond me. This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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