‘Stop WHO’s Pandemic Treaty’ — Activists Urge Indian Government
December 21, 2023: In a collective outcry against the WHO’s (World Health Organisation) proposed Pandemic Treaty, also dubbed Pandemic Accord, the country’s prominent social activists, legal professionals, medical practitioners, and concerned citizens has sent across an open letter to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya.
In the letter dated December 16, 2023, the signatories called upon the PM and the health minister to reject the WHO’s proposed treaty, arguing that it constitutes a severe infringement upon fundamental rights. As the letter says, the WHO-backed treaty’s implications go against the spirit of the Indian Constitution, particularly in its intended overruling of “the fundamental right to bodily autonomy and integrity”.
The letter’s signatories include Dr. Jacob Puliyel, former member of India’s NTAGI (National Technical Advisory Group on Immunisation); prominent lawyers Prashant Bhushan, Colin Gonsalves, and Nilesh Ojha; noted medical-field veterans Dr. Amitav Banerjee, Dr. Gautam Das, and Dr. Lalit Kumar Anande; prominent food rights activist Aruna Rodrigues, and many other prominent citizens of the country.
The letter’s pitch
“The proposed ‘Accord’ marks a fundamental change in how the WHO will function, as it seeks secretively, behind closed doors, sweeping powers under its Director-General, to be in control of a global government on health, ‘in a One Health approach’… and not just on health, but expanding into the food economy and environment as well. Therefore, the WHO can, at will, call a pandemic, declare a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) and then take over the authority of national governments, to detain its citizens, restrict their travel, requiring vaccine passports (forced testing and vaccination), increased social media censorship, etc. The proposed ‘pandemic treaty’ would also operate as a ‘framework convention’ that’s ongoing, year after year, indefinitely,” the letter’s signatories wrote.
Central to the concern of the letter is the WHO’s potential rise in global health governance, marking a pivotal shift in its authority. The letter underscores that the WHO, through this treaty, seeks unbridled powers that undermine national sovereignty and the sanctity of individual liberties. “The WHO will become a dictatorial authority,” the signatories cautioned.
The letter also critically looks at what the signatories see as the opaque nature of the WHO’s decision-making process, asserting that unelected and largely anonymous delegates negotiate on behalf of various nations during meetings of the WHO.
The WHO had published one of the draft versions for the planned pandemic treaty on February 1, 2023, calling it ‘Zero Draft of the WHO CA+ for the consideration of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body at its fourth meeting’.
Plans for the proposed treaty were first publicised further back, in March 2021.
In this year’s ‘zero draft’, the Geneva-headquartered world body wrote that it “aims for a world where pandemics are effectively controlled to protect present and future generations… and to advance the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health for all peoples, on the basis of equity, human rights, and solidarity, with a view to achieving universal health coverage, while recognising the sovereign rights of countries, acknowledging the differences in levels of development among countries, respecting their national context, and recognising existing relevant international instruments.”
The WHO’s ‘zero draft’ also says it seeks “to achieve greater equity and effectiveness for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response through the fullest national and international cooperation.”
In the December 16 letter addressed to the Indian PM and the health minister, reference is made to critical ethical doctrines such as the Nuremberg Code and the Geneva statement for doctors to underscore the gravity of the situation. The signatories stress the indispensability of informed consent and the respect for individual autonomy in medical decisions. The letter elucidates the fundamental importance of these principles, citing, “The negation of bodily integrity of any human being means the loss of all human rights.”
The letter reads, “As doctors and medical scientists, any coercion runs counter to an inviolate biomedical ethic and the Hippocratic Oath of ‘do no harm’, both of which do not allow a doctor to forcibly administer a drug to, or into any person. They contravene both the Nuremberg Code and Geneva international agreements. As citizens of democratic India, we strongly oppose any medical procedure that is forced.”
The signatories wrote, “The language of the treaty/accord in some clauses appears to make the right ‘noises’ relating to human rights, national sovereignty/domestic laws. But, not only are there deep contradictions in the clauses, but the intention is clear when the Amendments to the IHR 2005 (International Health Regulations) are quietly written into the text of the ‘Accord’ (ref. 8 & 48). In so doing, the ‘Accord’ proceeds to facilitate a dictatorship role for the WHO, as it moves to acquire unfettered power on the basis of the Amendments to the IHR 2005.”
The letter talks about the potential ramifications if the treaty is ratified at the 77th World Health Assembly (WHA) in 2024, warning of perpetual lockdowns and corporate dominance. It highlights the chilling prospect of suppression of dissent. The letter also points out the WHO’s associations with influential entities in the biopharmaceutical circles, and the spectacle of conflict of interest and undue influence in global health policies.
The signatories implore India’s leadership to safeguard national sovereignty and citizens’ rights by rejecting the WHO’s pandemic treaty. They called for a critical re-evaluation of the WHO’s role in shaping global health policies, stressing on the need to curtail unchecked authority that could impact fundamental freedoms and medical practices.
The letter apart, Dr. David Bell, an esteemed clinical and public health physician and a former WHO scientific and medical officer, also recently expressed apprehension over the looming pandemic treaty. He warned that this initiative could serve as a catalyst for what he calls “a fascist approach to societal management,” favouring unscrupulous corporations and investors who reaped benefits during the Covid-19 crisis. Dr. Bell contends that the treaty’s aftermath could lead to a distressing erosion of human rights and individual freedoms.
At the heart of Dr. Bell’s concern lies the expansive authority that the pandemic treaty, in its current draft, is poised to grant the WHO. This authority would allow the WHO to dictate various measures, including making substantial financial demands from various nations, enforcing lockdowns, imposing travel constraints, seeking a regime of compulsory medical examinations, and seeking to mandate vaccinations during public health emergencies.
Critics of the WHO from around the world fear that the proposed treaty, if adopted, could hand alarming powers to the WHO to unilaterally declare Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEIC), impacting broad territories, regardless of the nature — be it biological, climate-related, or environmental threats — without the requisite substantiation.
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