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Republican Governors Oppose WHO's Expanded Role in Health Emergencies

Republican Governors Oppose WHO's Expanded Role in Health Emergencies

May 24, 2024

Republican Governors Oppose WHO's Expanded Role in Health Emergencies

A group of Republican governors has expressed strong opposition to proposals that could grant the World Health Organization (WHO) increased authority in the event of global health emergencies. In a letter addressed to President Joe Biden, the governors warned against allowing the WHO to attain what they describe as "unprecedented and unconstitutional" powers within the United States.

The letter, signed by twenty-four Republican governors, including Ron DeSantis of Florida, Kay Ivey of Alabama, and Kristi Noem of South Dakota, articulates concerns about two specific proposals currently under negotiation. These proposals aim to amend the WHO's International Health Regulations and to establish a new treaty, referred to as the "Pandemic Agreement."

According to the signatories, the proposed changes could potentially transform the WHO from an advisory entity to a global health authority. The letter states that under these amendments, "the WHO’s Director-General would supposedly gain unilateral power to declare a ‘public health emergency of international concern’ in member nations."

Governors from states such as Texas, Georgia, and Wyoming also joined in signing the letter, which further expresses apprehension over the creation of a global surveillance infrastructure and mandates that could force member states to censor public health-related speech. The governors emphasized their commitment to resisting any transfer of authority to the WHO that might impact public policy or the citizens of their states.

The concerns outlined in the letter also reflect apprehension about the potential implications for the autonomy of state governance during health emergencies. Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, along with the entire Republican Senate conference, has previously urged President Biden to reject any agreements that would expand the WHO's authority during a global pandemic.

The World Health Assembly (WHA), the decision-making body of the WHO, comprising 194 member states, is scheduled to meet from May 27 to June 1. During this assembly, the international agreements in question are expected to be considered.

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