World health chiefs were told yesterday to forget about drawing up pandemic powers that could force Britain into another lockdown.
MPs, a minister and the Foreign Office have all expressed concern over the World Health Organization’s attempt to impose protocols on member states during future outbreaks.
They fear that the UN agency wants to “go from an advisory organization to an international control authority”. It is negotiating new rules to deal with pandemics and has a target date of next May for a legally binding agreement.
The WHO has been called a “puppet of China” by Donald Trump and critics during the pandemic for its failure to challenge Beijing over its early handling of the health crisis.
Among its proposed amendments is a requirement for the 194 UN member countries to recognize it as the global authority on public health measures. If passed, there are fears it could allow the WHO to impose border closures, quarantines, lockdowns or vaccine passports on member countries.
(Stock Photo) The WHO has been branded a ‘China puppet’ by Donald Trump and critics during the pandemic for its failure to challenge Beijing over its early handling of the health crisis
But MPs sent a letter to the Foreign Office calling on it to block powers that ‘appear to materially interfere with the UK’s ability to make its own rules and control its own budgets’.
Organized by Esther McVey, the letter calls for a Commons vote on the draft treaty and settlement.
“There is rightly growing concern about the WHO pandemic treaty and international health regulations,” Ms McVey said.
“The plans represent a significant shift for the organization from a member-driven advisory body to a health authority with enforcement powers.
“This is particularly worrying when you consider the WHO’s poor record of providing consistent, clear and science-based advice for the management of international outbreaks.”
Organized by Esther McVey, the letter calls for a Commons vote on the draft treaty and settlement
Tory MPs Sir John Redwood, David Davis, Philip Davies, Sir Christopher Chope and Danny Kruger also signed the letter.
Foreign Secretary Andrew Mitchell told The Daily Telegraph: ‘The UK supports the pandemic treaty currently being negotiated by national governments, which could speed up the sharing of data on new pandemic threats so that we can react quickly in the event of future pandemics.
“We are clear that we would never agree to anything that crosses our points of principle on sovereignty or prevents the UK from taking decisive action against future pandemics.”
A Foreign Office source said: ‘Decisions on how to handle the global Covid pandemic came down to decisions made by individual sovereign governments and not by global advisory bodies. There are no plans to change this.
Molly Kingsley, founder of UsForThem, which has campaigned against school closures and masks in classrooms, said: “This is a really, really unprecedented land grab by the WHO. You must be wondering, who is the WHO to grant themselves powers?
She said the UK government’s response vindicated her group’s concerns about the WHO’s proposed regulations.
The agency has been criticized for praising China’s response to Covid, for taking too long to label the outbreak an international emergency and for advising countries against imposing travel bans. His investigation into the origins of Covid, which decided that the Wuhan lab leak theory was “extremely unlikely”, was widely seen as a whitewash.
Its chief executive has since called for a new investigation, saying: ‘All hypotheses remain open and require further study.’
A WHO spokesperson said: “This is a process led by sovereign states and the WHO secretariat is facilitating the negotiations.
“As with all international instruments, any amendment, if accepted by member states, would be determined by the governments themselves, who would take any action taking into account their own national laws and regulations.”
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