Why does the White House want a more powerful WHO?

Did you know that a declaration of public health emergency by someone at the World Health Organization could be used by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to justify detaining and examining Americans suspected of being ill, even without the declaration of an emergency under U.S. law?

The CDC updated regulations for quarantine on the last day of the Obama administration (2017) to add a definition of public health emergency. The term was not defined in the law passed by Congress, even though the law authorized the Secretary of Health and Human Services to declare an emergency. It’s not unreasonable that a regulation defined a term yet to be determined under law. But what is deeply troubling is that the definition expanded to include declarations by unelected officials in an international organization.

In response to alarmed commenters in the Federal Register, the CDC defended itself: “We note first that the definition of public health emergency is not limited to those emergencies declared by the HHS Secretary.” Who else would declare a public health emergency in the United States other than the Secretary of HHS as designated by Congress? None other than the World Health Organization. This regulation (which has the force of law) creates the ability for a declaration by the WHO, that has not been made here in the U.S., to be the legal basis for action by the CDC and HHS.

This action of the WHO being a trigger to legal actions in the U.S. is dangerous to American citizens as well as the U.S. Constitution. And this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what the U.S. is currently opening the door to with proposed and pending changes in international law.

America should stop funneling U.S. tax dollars to the World Health Organization!

International agreements are in a very fluid area of law. Custom, tradition, expectations and what is allowed to continue are key to whether agreements or actions on the global scale will be acceptable, or considered legal. In other words, things are legal until we say they’re not.

This is why it is so important that we speak up right now and let the administration know that we will not continue to stand by while anti-American agreements are being made with the WHO.

There has been criticism from around the globe about the mishandling of the COVID-19 pandemic by the WHO. There are claims that Taiwan tried to warn the WHO, but that warning, along with lack of cooperation from China about knowledge of the emergence of the virus, led to a global pandemic. There are a handful of U.S. lawmakers who know this and have proposed bills to defund the WHO, but the bills have not moved since they were introduced. Now, new information has come to light that the WHO is on the verge of being given more authority over Americans and more funding.

It has recently been uncovered that there are two ways WHO expansion is being orchestrated: through amendments to already existing legally binding International Health Regulations that could possibly go into effect by the end of 2022, and simultaneously by a new pandemic treaty that is already set to be voted on in May 2024, even though it is not yet drafted, which we told you about here. The amendments propose to expand authority and induce compliance. The treaty will have the teeth: non-compliance will likely trigger sanctions and/or withholding of financial resources. The two documents together will outsource our sovereign nation’s powers to respond to a global health threat, to an organization controlled by financial interests outside of our borders. (Investigative researcher James Roguski sounded an early alarm on this — check out his Substack!)

The aims of the treaty are vague and not yet drafted. The more immediate concern is the amendments proposed by the U.S. to the existing International Health Regulations.

The WHO has shown us time and time again it is not fit to manage global health. The coronavirus pandemic was not the first time the WHO bungled handling the spread of disease, or blew the actual threat greatly out of proportion. By their own admission, they mishandled the spread of Ebola.[i]

Some say the WHO needs more – more funds, more authority, and the ability to hold countries accountable when they are not compliant with WHO dictates. Does this make sense? The WHO is not a governing body, nor should it be. It should continue to be an agency that supports governments where they are.

We cannot allow this international organization to have its hand in global health any further. Billions of U.S. tax dollars have been funneled to the WHO in 2021 alone and that number will only grow if we allow it.

The WHO includes voting members who put their own people in jeopardy through dictatorial violence, and U.S. tax dollars are supporting that by voting on global health issues alongside people who would harm their own citizens.

If the U.S. agrees to strengthen the WHO through finances and more authority, the constitutional rights of Americans will be threatened and ultimately destroyed.

The response of the U.S. and the rest of the world to a declared COVID-19 pandemic showed us that we need to act fast to stop a global government that has been in the making for many years.

More details on the CDC quarantine regulations

The Public Health Service Act, passed by the U.S. Congress and signed into law by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in 1944, authorizes the CDC to detain and examine people they believe may spread a disease that would constitute a public health emergency.[ii] The term “public health emergency” was never defined in the law.

In 2017, the CDC updated their regulations regarding quarantine and isolation. The changes were finalized in the public register on the last day of Barack Obama’s presidency, January 19, 2017. Part of those changes included aligning the U.S. definition of public health emergency with that of the WHO.

“HHS/CDC considers it essential to define public health emergency because the existence of such an emergency is a necessary prerequisite to the apprehension and examination of individuals in the precommunicable stage of quarantinable communicable disease.”[iii] (emphasis added)

The CDC is saying to detain and examine individuals they suspect may have a disease, they must have a legal trigger, and that trigger is their definition. Their definition allows them to bypass the U.S. legal system.

Interestingly, these definitions were added only to the section on regulating interstate and not foreign quarantine. Wouldn’t it be logical to include the WHO definition as a trigger for quarantine of foreign travelers, rather than those in the U.S. moving between states?

It’s also interesting to note that even though the CDC responds to public comment that it is essential to define public health emergency so they have a basis for action, those words are not used at all in the regulation where they are defined.[iv]

The CDC says “a disease threat anywhere is a disease threat everywhere.”[v] The CDC estimates that only about a third of countries in the world are able to detect, assess, and respond to a public health emergency.

What is the US relationship with the WHO?

The WHO is a specialized agency of the United Nations. The WHO has a constitution which authorizes the Health Assembly — the voting members – to adopt either “conventions or agreements, which shall come into force for each Member when accepted by it in accordance with its constitutional processes.” It can also adopt regulations aimed at preventing the international spread of disease. The adopted regulations are known as the International Health Regulations. Members of the WHO must give notice of their adoption, they may reject the regulations or amendments, or they may take reservations (make objections to part of, or an interpretation of, the regulations but still adopt the regulations as a whole).

The only other thing the WHO constitution authorizes the Health Assembly to do with respect to countries and territories around the globe is to make recommendations to members on matters of health. There’s no authorization in the constitution to impose sanctions or use force. (Some people believe this will be covered by the upcoming pandemic treaty.)

The WHO is immune from “every form of legal process” under a document agreed to by the United States through the United Nations called the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the Specialized Agencies.[vi] The document continues, “The property and assets of the specialized agencies, wherever located and by whomsoever held, shall be immune from search, requisition, confiscation, expropriation and any other form of interference, whether by executive, administrative, judicial or legislative action.” This means there is zero transparency or accountability.

Furthermore, the American Constitution will not protect Americans when it comes to the actions of the World Health Organization.

Moreover, the WHO is exempt from taxes, customs duties, and prohibitions, and may freely transfer their funds around the globe.

The earliest iterations of the IHR only addressed specific diseases. In 1951, the WHO adopted the International Sanitary Regulations, which consolidated many international agreements into one.[vii] The name of the document was changed to the International Health Regulations in 1969 and revised in 1983 to remove smallpox from the list of diseases covered because the WHO declared it eradicated.

In general, the IHR is designed to protect trade and travel while also attempting to stop international spread of disease. The regulations impose reporting requirements on Member States and require members to maintain certain “capacity” to handle public health emergencies. Capacity means the infrastructure to get health measures to the population and the funds to handle an emergency.

The IHR facilitates sharing of health data around the globe. According to the President of the European Union, “The International Health Regulations (IHR) are a very effective tool for reinforcing the connection between the surveillance systems and in establishing rapid reaction mechanisms.”

The 2005 amendments to the IHR introduced the concept of the “Public Health Emergency of International Concern,” which was not yet a legal concept in international law. Declarations of emergency, which trigger temporary changes in legal rights of citizens and powers of the executive, were traditionally American concepts. As one legal scholar noted, the IHR expansion “empowers WHO to determine, independently, whether an event constitutes a public health emergency of international concern…This proposal increases WHO’s power vis-à-vis its members because it authorizes WHO to make judgements about events transpiring in the territories of its members.”[viii] The proposed amendments by the U.S. will expand this even further.

 Importantly, the U.S. accepted the amendments to the IHR with the following reservation:

“The Government of the United States of America reserves the right to assume obligations under these Regulations in a manner consistent with its fundamental principles of federalism. With respect to obligations concerning the development, strengthening, and maintenance of the core capacity requirements set forth in Annex 1, these Regulations shall be implemented by the Federal Government or the state governments, as appropriate and in accordance with our Constitution, to the extent that the implementation of these obligations comes under the legal jurisdiction of the Federal Government. To the extent that such obligations come under the legal jurisdiction of the state governments, the Federal Government shall bring such obligations with a favorable recommendation to the notice of the appropriate state authorities.” [ix]

Summary of Proposed Amendments to IHR

Here’s a quick list of the major points of the proposed U.S. amendments:

  1. The WHO could act without verification from a Member State where there is a report of a public health concern.
  2. The amendments would add new possible declarations of a Public Health Emergency of Regional Concern. The PHERC could be declared by an (unelected) regional director of the WHO.
  3. In addition, the amendments allow the Director General to issue a new, “intermediate public health alert,” if the Emergency Committee that considers whether there is a PHEIC does not agree there’s an emergency.
  4. New Compliance Committee to review national structures for things like surveillance, infrastructure, cooperation, and implementation of medical response.
  5. The amount of time to opt-out of the adopted regulations would change from 18 to 6 months; the time from adoption to implementation would change from 2 years to 6 months..


Hidden Toggle
Click to expand detailed analysis of proposed amendments.

Article 5: Surveillance

This section calls on each Member State to maintain capacity to “detect, assess, notify, and report events.” The U.S. amendments would add a “Universal Health Periodic Review” of Member States, and a mandate for the WHO to provide or facilitate support and funds to build this capacity upon the request of a State Party. When and where to complete a periodic review is completely up to the WHO. In short, this amendment would allow for completely subjective review of a country’s compliance with the IHR and then require the WHO to provide funding to build data collection infrastructures, vaccine acquisition and distribution nodes, and more.

More alarmingly, the U.S. calls for the WHO to “develop early warning criteria for assessing and progressively updating the national, regional, or global risk posed by an event of unknown causes or sources and shall convey this risk assessment to State Parties.” This is straight up constant medical surveillance.

Article 6: Notification

This section details how a Member State must notify the WHO about potential Public Health Emergencies of International Concern (PHEICs). The U.S. amendments would require notification to the WHO within 48 hours of the receipt of knowledge by the state’s “National IHR Focal Point,” a designated contact person for these urgent communications between a member and the WHO. As it stands, states are required to be able to assess a threat within 48 hours as a “core capacity requirement,” but assessment and notification are two different animals. While it is certainly reasonable that the world would want to know of an emerging threat as quickly as possible, the addition of the specification of a 48-hour window lends itself to the possibility of an assessment that the Focal Point did not act in the mandated timeframe, which opens up an issue of noncompliance with the IHR. At this moment, there isn’t much consequence for not following the rules. But that could change at any moment, if the WHO is given more authority to enforce the regulations. The U.S. is going out of its way to add this language, although one could guess that in a true health emergency good actors would want to save as many lives as possible, rendering a timeframe in a regulation irrelevant for anything other than punishment for noncompliance later.

The U.S. amendments would also expand the group of international organizations privy to notification from only the International Atomic Agency to also the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), the UN Environmental Programme (UNEP), “or other relevant entities.” Let the data flow freely among any organization of your choosing!

Article 9: Other reports

This amendment is HUGE. Right now, if the World Health Organization wants to take an action, like declare a PHEIC, it must “consult with and attempt to obtain verification from the State Party in whose territory the event is allegedly occurring.” The U.S. wants to get rid of that requirement.

Article 10: Verification

This section details the way the WHO requests information and verification from a state where there’s a potential health concern. The amendments would require the WHO to offer collaboration with a state where there has been a report of a public health concern within 24 hours of getting a report and the state would be required accept the collaboration within 48 hours or be considered as rejecting the offer to work with the WHO. The amendment would further change the next action of the WHO from a choice to a mandate to immediately share the information with “other States Parties,” though the amendment does not specify which ones, nor require that all States Parties be notified.

Article 11: Provision of information by WHO

The WHO acts on reports from Member States, but the amendments would expand the trigger for action to include information “which is available in the public domain.” In other words, if all these amendments were to be adopted, it’s plausible to say there could be a scenario where the WHO declares a public health emergency based on social media reports, without verification from the leaders of the place the potential situation is happening, and it could all happen in 48 hours. The amendments would change the WHO’s decision to inform all members from a “should” to a “shall.” The amendments would escalate the verification and sharing of information from cautionary (not sharing information until conditions are met) to a mandate to share information when the “WHO determines it is necessary that such information be available.” Complete unilateral decision-making. And no longer would the WHO “consult with” the State Party, but instead assert its new authority by simply informing them. The WHO would be required to make an annual report to the Health Assembly about its activities, and specifically about States Parties who do not verify concerns.

Article 12: Determination of a public health emergency of international concern

The amendments would lower the threshold of when the Director General of the WHO can take action to include “potential” emergencies. The information does not need to be verified by the state in which the situation is allegedly happening, and can come from the public domain.

If the Emergency Committee does not agree there is a PHEIC, the DG may unilaterally at any time issue an “intermediate public health alert,” if he or she determines the situation requires “heightened international awareness.” International law generally looks toward minimizing impacts on trade and travel. This amendment would put the ability to affect the economy of a country in the hands of one, unelected and unaccountable person.

The amendments would add new possible determinations of a Public Health Emergency of Regional Concern. The PHERC could be declared by an (unelected) regional director of the WHO.

It’s also of note that even though the regulations do include a provision for the Director General to unilaterally terminate a PHEIC, no such amendments are included for the PHERC or the intermediate public health alert.

Article 13: Public health response

The language of collaboration is removed from this section, which details how the WHO should proceed with the State Party where a PHEIC originates. No longer working together, the WHO must simply “offer assistance,” and the State Party must accept or reject the offer within 48 hours, and facilitate on-site access, or “provide its rationale for the denial of access.”

Article 15: Temporary recommendations

The amendment proposed to this section adds the ability to get boots on the ground, so to speak. The U.S. proposes the WHO may recommend “the deployment of expert teams” to a location experiencing a PHEIC. The amendment does not directly specify how those experts would be chosen, or what access they would claim to the state’s location, labs, or other public health infrastructure. It is proposed, however, that the DG “shall consult with relevant international agencies such as ICAO, IMO and WTO in order to avoid unnecessary interference with international travel and trade.” There are additional amendments proposed to exempt travel and trade restrictions on health workers and “essential medical products and supplies,” as well as repatriation of travelers.

Article 48: Terms of reference and composition & Article 49: Procedure

Reasonably, the U.S. proposes to add Regional Directors from impacted regions to the Emergency Committee considering whether there is a PHEIC, and that those serving be trained in the IHR. The amendments would define an “affected State Party” as one which “either geographically proximate or otherwise impacted by the event in question,” allowing any party to present their views to the Emergency Committee or propose a termination of the PHEIC or other recommendations. As the procedure stands now, only the State Party in which territory the emergency is situated may propose an end to the emergency. Any EC member who disagrees with the findings may present a dissent to be included with the final EC report.

NEW: Compliance Committee

The U.S. proposes a new Compliance Committee that would monitor, promote, and report on compliance with the IHR. It would be authorized to request information, undertake information-gathering in the territory of the State Party with consent, enlist NGOs or members of the public in considering compliance, and make recommendations regarding compliance or assistance that should come from the WHO. The Committee “shall strive to make its recommendations on the basis of consensus” (but there is no requirement for how many votes are required for consensus),and may request representatives from the United Nations or other organizations to attend sessions.

Article 59: Entry into force; period for rejection or reservations

Last, but not least by a long shot, the U.S. proposes to speed up the process for legally binding changes to the IHR to take effect on the Member States. The U.S. suggests reducing the time frame for rejecting or taking reservations to amendments from 18 months to 6 months.

You can help stop the WHO global governance. Take action today!



Step One: With the WHO, agreements are legal only if we allow them to be. Grassroots activism works! This is why the White House is trying to silence our voices with censorship and cancellation. Use your voice now to tell your elected officials we will not stand by while he destroys America with global agreements that threaten US sovereignty and the health of the American people. If we allow our tax dollars and sovereignty to be taken away now, we will not be able to say no later. THealth care decisions are the domain of the states. Click here to sign our petition telling the federal government the US must say no to a pandemic treaty.


Step Two: Knowledge is power. To learn more and access free quick printables summarizing the dangers of increasing the power of the World Health Organization go to SHF’s WHO Resource Page. There you will find links to all SHF articles and analysis, interviews with our Policy Analyst, and current actions you can take.

References & Sources

Hidden Toggle
References & Sources

[i] https://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/oct/17/world-health-organisation-botched-ebola-outbreak

[ii] https://www.law.cornell.edu/uscode/text/42/264

[iii] https://www.federalregister.gov/documents/2017/01/19/2017-00615/control-of-communicable-diseases

[iv] https://www.ecfr.gov/current/title-42/chapter-I/subchapter-F/part-70

[v] https://www.cdc.gov/globalhealth/healthprotection/ghs/ihr/index.html

[vi] https://apps.who.int/gb/bd/PDF/bd47/EN/convention-on-the-privi-en.pdf

[vii] https://www.asil.org/insights/volume/8/issue/8/revision-world-health-organizations-international-health-regulations

[viii] https://www.asil.org/insights/volume/8/issue/8/revision-world-health-organizations-international-health-regulations

[ix] https://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/WHA75/A75_18-en.pdf

Share This