Britain could be thrown into another lockdown in the future… by the World Health Organization! Fears over new pandemic powers being considered for all member states
- The who could order governments to impose rules in a future disease outbreaks
- Tory MPs have called for a block on powers that would dictate UK health policy
Brits may be plunged into lockdowns at the whim of the World Health Organization (WHO) in future, MPs fear.
Sweeping new powers being considered by the UN agency would force all member states — including Britain, the US and Australia — to comply with any rules enforced during pandemics.
Such measures could include ones deployed to thwart the spread of Covid, such as vaccine passports and border closures.
Member states would also have to use 5 per cent of health budgets on preparing for another pandemic, if controversial proposals are given the go ahead.
WHO bosses are now whittling down the suggested amendments, before a vote next spring decides whether they will come into force.
The UN health agency could order the Government to impose quarantine rules, vaccine passports and close the borders, if a draft update to its powers is approved. Pictured: WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus
A letter from six Tory MPs, led by MP for Tatton Esther McVey (pictured), calls for a vote in the Commons on the draft before it is signed
Six Tory MPs have now written to the Foreign Office, demanding they block any new powers that could see the WHO dictate policy and budgets in the UK.
Ex-Cabinet minister Esther McVey warned it would see the organisation, described as China’s puppet by critics, move from a ‘member-led advisory body to a health authority with powers of compulsion’.
The new powers are being considered as part of an update to the WHO International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, which sets out obligations for its 194 member states to prepare for and respond to outbreaks and other public health risks.
More than 300 amendments to the IHR have been proposed by member states after the Covid pandemic showed it ‘needs to be improved’, the WHO said.
In parallel, the agency is also working on a pandemic preparedness treaty.
WHO chiefs say both instruments will make the world safer from health threats, with another crisis feared to be lurking around the corner.
READ MORE: Prepare for a disease even deadlier than Covid, WHO chief warns
In 2018, the WHO identified nine priority diseases (listed) that pose the biggest risk to public health. They were deemed to be most risky due to a lack of treatments or their ability to cause a pandemic
But among the 308 suggested changes to the IHR are proposals to create a ‘legally binding’ response to public health emergencies.
This amendment, suggested by African nations, states that the current wording of the IHR — that countries ‘should’ respond to health risks — is ‘weak’.
If given the greenlight, the move could see WHO decide on how nations respond to outbreaks, such as imposing vaccine passports, quarantine rules and restrictions on movement.
At a four-day meeting in April, the WHO discussed a third of the proposed amendments, while being ‘mindful’ of each nation’s ‘equity, sovereignty and solidarity’.
The IHR working group is set to meet again in July, October and December and will agree on an amendments package to present to the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2024, where a majority vote among member states decides whether they should be adopted.
The updated IHR would then come into force within a year for all member states, unless a country files a rejection.
And a meeting about the ‘complimentary’ pandemic treaty will take place in July, which sets out that all nations are expected to devote no less than five per cent of their budget to improve their pandemic preparedness.
However, a letter from Tory MPs, led by Ms McVey, calls for a vote in the Commons on the draft before it is signed.
The letter, seen by The Telegraph, states that there is ‘growing concern’ about both the IHR and the treaty.
Ms McVey said: ‘The plans represent a significant shift for the organisation, from a member-led advisory body to a health authority with powers of compulsion.
‘This is particularly worrying when you consider the WHO’s poor track record on providing consistent, clear and scientifically sound advice for managing international disease outbreaks.’
The WHO has repeatedly come under fire during the pandemic for its stalwart defence of China.
This included parroting Beijing’s dismissal that the virus could have leaked from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
In the earliest days of the outbreak, WHO director Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus even went as far as to praise Beijing’s ‘commitment to transparency’ which he called ‘beyond words’.
At around the same time, the Communist Party began censoring public information about the spread of the virus and its potential origins, at one point suggesting that US troops could have been the initial carriers.
The letter was co-signed by Tory MPs Sir John Redwood, David Davis, Philip Davies, Sir Christopher Chope and Danny Kruger, according to the newspaper.
Andrew Mitchell, a Foreign Office minister and MP for Sutton Coldfield, told the newspaper that he would support a WHO treaty that speeds up sharing data on pathogens that could trigger an outbreak so that nations can ‘respond quickly’.
‘We’re 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,’ he added.
A WHO spokesperson said: ‘Just as with negotiation on pandemic accord this is a process led by sovereign states and WHO secretariat is facilitating the negotiations.
‘As with all international instruments, any amendments to IHR, if and when agreed by member states, would be determined by governments themselves, who would take any action while considering their own national laws and regulations.’
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