By Norbert Häring
Government representatives have agreed to negotiate a first draft of a binding WHO pandemic treaty on the basis of a “conceptual zero draft” that is already available. It has obligations to constantly check for any possibly new virus, to give subsidies to pharma and to stockpile vaccines, support for medical patents and the right for the WHO to rule over pandemic responses via expert teams, sent into affected countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) announced on 7 December:
“Member States of the World Health Organization have agreed today to develop the first draft of a legally binding agreement designed to protect the world from pandemics. This “zero draft” of the pandemic accord, rooted in the WHO Constitution, will be discussed by Member States in February 2023.”
This was decided by the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB), comprised of WHO’s 194 member states at its third meeting from 5-7 December to negotiate a Pandemic Treaty or a binding agreement of some other type.
The INB’s Bureau, consisting of one representative from each of the six WHO regions, will develop the zero draft based on the conceptual zero draft. The proposed pandemic accord, which has been linked to the threat of a WHO health dictatorship in some circles, now goes by the innocuous technical term WHO CA+. CA+ stands for Convention, Agreement or Similar and refers to Article 19 of the WHO Constitution, which gives the World Health Assembly the authority to adopt conventions, agreements or similar.
The conceptual zero draft has been agreed on and published on 25 November. It goes pretty far in outlining how the pandemic treaty is supposed to look in the end. It says in the preliminaries that INB Bureau drafted it “reflecting written inputs on a working draft from Member States (30), regional submissions (2), and relevant stakeholders (36).” It should be safe to assume that “relevant stakeholders” mostly means the pharma industry and other globally active corporations and their foundations in the health and IT sectors, which provide the majority of the funding of the WHO.
Pharma needs help, lots of it
The result is a draft agreement, which the industry itself could hardly have drafted any better for their own benefit. It obliges signatory countries to (italics mine):
- Enhance capacities to establish and maintain strategic stockpiles of pandemic response products (Article 6(2)c);
- Allocate supplies, raw materials and other necessary inputs for sustainable production of pandemic response products (especially active pharmaceutical ingredients) including for stockpiling purposes (Art. 6(2)d);
- Strengthen local capacity to manufacture pandemic response products (…) including by (…) incentives to promote transfer of technology and know-how (7(2)a);
- Incentivise the development of pandemic response products (7(2)a,ii,a);
- Encourage, incentivize, and facilitate participation of private-sector entities in voluntary transfer of technology and know-how (7(2)a,iii);
- Support time-bound waivers of protection of intellectual property rights that are a barrier to manufacturing of pandemic response products during pandemics (7(2)a,iv).
Note “time bound” in front of waivers. It means that it is not okay to support radical patent reform, e.g. for vaccines and drugs that have been developed with public money, directly or indirectly. Apart from that, it is all about incentives, i.e. subsidies, for pharma companies, and about buying lots of their products, whether needed or not. Think of the billions of vaccine doses that have been paid for without being used (several hundred million in Germany alone). The same had happened during the swine flu scare at a smaller scale.
Private sector as an equal partner
The conceptual zero draft also has rules that would prohibit governments to do what a government normally should do: Call the shots and set the rules by which all the other actors play (together). No, governments will be obliged to let corporations and their foundations co-determine policy, as in:
- Collaborate, including with non-State actors, the private sector and civil society, through an all-encompassing whole-of-government, multistakeholder, multi-disciplinary and multilevel approach, by means that include measures to develop, through whole-of-government and multisectoral collaboration, plans that strengthen pandemic preparedness, prevention, response capacities 14(2)a);
- Engage with communities, civil society, academia and non-State actors, including the private sector, as part of a whole-of-society approach to pandemic prevention, preparedness response and recovery of health systems (15(2)a);
- Promote two-way engagement of civil society, communities and non-State actors, including the private sector, as part of a whole-of-society response that involves communities in decision making and uses feedback mechanisms (15(2)d);
- Establish or reinforce and adequately finance an effective national coordinating multisectoral mechanism with meaningful representation, engagement, participation and empowerment of communities, for pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery of health systems (15(2)e).
- Strengthen and prioritize domestic financing for pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and health systems recovery, including through greater collaboration between the health, finance and private sectors (18(2)a);
Let the WHO rule
There are also provisions that enshrine the authority of the WHO over the health policy of signatory countries, which, indirectly, amounts to letting Bill Gates and his friends call the shots, as they provide the bulk of the financing of the WHO:
- Enhance WHO’s central role as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, mindful of the need for coordination with entities in the United Nations system and other intergovernmental organizations (13(2)e);
- Facilitate WHO rapid access to outbreak areas, including through the deployment of expert teams to evaluate and support the response to emerging outbreak (13(2)i).
- Finance, through new or established international mechanisms, regional and global capacity-building for pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery of health systems (18(2)b).
- The Governing Body (…) shall consider and approve cooperative procedures and institutional mechanisms to promote compliance with the provisions of the WHO CA+ and, if deemed appropriate, to address cases of non-compliance (20(1));
- These measures, procedures and mechanisms shall include monitoring provisions and accountability measures to systematically address preparedness for, response to, and the impact of pandemics, by means that include submission of periodic reports, reviews, remedies and actions (20(2)).
Thus, the way poor countries were forced during the corona scare to declare extremely damaging lockdowns and similar measures for their living from hand to mouth citizenry would become the norm, supplemented with htumb-screws that can be applied to richer countries, too:
All governments will have to submit to reviews of their adherence to these pharma-friendly rules and be treated to helpful suggestions on how to become better. If they ignore this helpful advice and do not play by the WHO’s rules they will have any financial support withdrawn that they are getting from World Bank, IMF and such, and will not get any new support funds. For cases in which this does not work or is not enough, the WHO is to get tools to sanction those governments who do not comply.
Let censorship and propaganda prevail
There are also provisions that would snshrine the totalitarian communication policies during corona scare, which I have described in the blogposts ““We own the science”: How the UN became the Ministry of Truth” and “How WHO is controlling social media” .
- Inform the public, communicate risk and manage infodemics through effective channels, including social media (16(2)a);
- Conduct regular social media analysis to identify and understand misinformation, and design communications and messaging to the public to counteract misinformation, disinformation and false news (16(2)b);
- Strengthen public trust and counter misinformation and disinformation, including through providing timely, simple, clear, coherent, accurate, transparent and effective global and national communications, based on science and evidence, promoting media literacy and ethical professional journalism, and strengthening research on misinformation and disinformation and its relationship to public trust in order to inform policies (16(2)e);
- Strengthen research into the behavioural barriers and drivers of adherence to public health measures, confidence and uptake of vaccines, use of therapeutics and trust in science and government institutions (16(2)f).
The US will not take no for an answer
In parallel with the negotiation of a WHO pandemic treaty, aka WHO CA+, negotiations are ongoing about a “strengthening” of the International Health Regulations, which includes binding rules on how to deal with health emergencies. The US-government had wanted to include sweeping new powers for the WHO’s leadership to declare health emergencies and to tell affected countries what to do during such emergencies. However, they had suffered a setback in May 2022, as a number of African and other poor countries refused to agree to such changes.
However, the US-government is not one to give up easily. Loyce Pace, Assistant Secretary for Global Affairs (OGA), Department of Health and Human Services, was quoted as saying:
“If it doesn’t happen this week, we’re not going to stop, we’re going to keep working to that end”
And they did. The controversial obligation to accept expert teams sent in by the WHO, which poor countries had refused to sign into reformed International Health Regulations, is now reappearing in the conceptual zero draft of the pandemic treaty as Article 13 (2) i and the WHO is given powers to sanction non-complying governments.
A report on individual governments’ suggestions for reform of the International Health Regulations is supposed to be published in January 2023. This is also the time when the zero draft of the Pandemic Treaty, based on the conceptual zero draft analyzed here, is expected to be circulated,in order for it to be discussed at the meeting the negotiating body at the end of February.
During 2023, negotiations will take place in parallel in the IHR reform committee and in the negotiating body of the pandemic treaty. Decisions are expected in 2024.
Catastrophic Contagion: A global challenge exercise
In the meantime, WHO, Bill Gates and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security are busy putting moral pressure on African governments to agree to harsh new health regulations and to a pandemic treaty. On 23 October they made current and former Health Ministers and senior public health officials from Senegal, Rwanda, Nigeria, Angola, Liberia, Singapore, India, Germany and the US do a pandemic-response rehearsal together with Bill Gates and representatives of WHO and Johns Hopkins, in which they rehearsed the response to a new deadly pandemic affecting mostly children and young people.
The setting was the Grand Challenges annual meeting in Brussels, Belgium. Grand Challenges was founded by the Gates Foundation and brings together “funding and research partners”, the private sector and recipient governments for work on health and some other challenges. This setting will have ensured a degree of cooperativeness of those invited and sheds a light on the carrot-and-stick-approach used to convince poor countries to agree to their disempowerment.
The Gates Foundation and Johns Hopkins, together with the World Economic Forum, have also been the organizers of the infamous Event 201, a tabletop-exercise rehearsing the response to a SARS-like virus, “but more transmissible by people with mild simptoms”, a few months before the SARS-CoV-2 scare began.
The organizers describe the new tabletop-exercise in the following way:
“The exercise simulated a series of WHO emergency health advisory board meetings addressing a fictional pandemic set in the near future. Participants grappled with how to respond to an epidemic located in one part of the world that then spread rapidly, becoming a pandemic with a higher fatality rate than COVID-19 and disproportionately affecting children and young people. Participants were challenged to make urgent policy decisions with limited information in the face of uncertainty. Each problem and choice had serious health, economic, and social ramifications.”
This is scary, because they draw the conclusion, that a virus, affecting the young, could give new justification to school closures and general lockdowns, which have been thoroughly discredited in the covid-context and are considered now mostly something between a serious mistake and malfeasance. Let us hope that this exercise will turn out to be less prophetic than Event 201.
The first “lesson” from the exercise reads:
“Even a group of some of the wisest and most experienced international public health leaders who lived through COVID-19 wrestled with opposing views on whether countries should impose travel restrictions or close schools to try to contain a serious new epidemic that was disproportionately affecting children. The exercise raised a pivotal question: If future pandemics have a much higher lethality than COVID-19, or for example, if they affect predominantly children, would or should countries take different, stronger, earlier measures to contain it, and what are those measures?”
The message is clearly: These decisions are too hard and dangerous for you to make on your own. Better, easier and safer to leave them to the experts (which will be sent in by the WHO):
“Establishing an international network of national public health leaders, along the lines of the professionalized “Pandemic Corps” referred to in our exercise, could substantially help countries save lives and livelihoods during major epidemics and recover more quickly. Political leaders, who are entrusted with keeping their citizens safe, could benefit from consensus views offered by such a group, rather than having to make impromptu, high consequence policy decisions when lives are at stake during dangerous outbreaks.”
The other lessons could be summarized as “you better agree to the pandemic treaty and new health regulations”. Individual lessons include more propaganda and censorship:
“Countries should prioritize efforts to increase trust in government and public health; improve public health communication efforts; increase the resiliency of populations to misleading information; and reduce the spread of harmful misinformation….”
And also that more money should be thrown at pharma:
“We need to build up manufacturing, distribution, and administration capacities around the world, paying particular attention to countries with poor infrastructure. (…) More preparedness work needs to be done, new decisions need to be made, and additional resources committed.”
The message was put even a bit more bluntly in the accompanying video by Jeanne Meserve, role-playing as a CNN-anchorwoman (which she has been in the past):
“To date, there have been 20 million deaths, including 15 million children. Countless children are alive, but are left with paralysis or brain damage. The most successful countries are those, which invested in preparedness and trained for this moment years in advance. (…) If more countries had participated and heeded the guidance, the toll might have been much less.”
Health and national security (of the US)
Jeanne Meserve is an interesting person, drawing attention to the strong connection of health security policy and national security as the US understand it. She is a former CNN Homeland Security Correspondent and anchorwoman and an International Security Analyst for Canada’s CTV News. She will host the upcoming NatSec Tech podcast for the Special Competitive Studies Project (SCSP).
SCSP was founded by former Google-boss Eric Schmidt, after the National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence (NSCAI), which he has chaired, had presented its final report. SCSP intends to develop recommendations “to strengthen America’s long-term global competitiveness for a future where AI and other emerging technologies reshape our national security, economy, and society.” Under Schmidt’s leadership its board consists of a bipartisan who’s-who of national security politics.
The field of International Health Security that the Johns Hopkins Center has in its name is intimately intertwined with national security, because a lot of virus research is done for national security purposes, to study and make bio weapons ostensibly exclusively to be better able to defend against bio weapons.
The twin projects of strengthened International Health Regulations and a WHO Pandemic Treaty aim at forcing all countries to submit to a regime of health related propaganda and censorship, restrictions on basic human rights and heavy direct and indirect subsidies to pharma and IT corporations. A regime, controlled by the WHO, which is in turn controlled by large international corporations and Washington.
Originally published on Money and More by Norbert Häring