Will the WHO regulation amendments do more harm than good?

Take a deep dive and make up your own mind

HART was a co-signatory to an open letter to the UK House of Commons and House of Lords scrutiny committees regarding the impact of the proposed amendments to international health regulations.  Dr David Bell, public health physician and senior scholar of the Brownstone Institute, has written a detailed synopsis of all the proposed changes – Amendments to WHO’s International Health Regulations: An Annotated Guide.

These amendments are likely to be agreed at the World Health Assembly meeting in May.  Last week on Twitter, Australian Senator Malcolm Roberts suggested that some of these amendments had been dropped but this may be false optimism. The listed amendments document has not changed, but an accompanying committee report has questioned the wording and possible redundancy of some amendments and the wisdom of making all the changes ‘mandatory’. Meanwhile, 17 US Senators have introduced a bill to require any changes to be ratified in both houses. We need a similar push here.

Please read on to get a taste of the power grab proposed. Treaty changes are still firmly on the agenda.

An abbreviated  summary of significant clauses in the IHR amendments  

Dr David Bell

The World Health Organisation (WHO) is currently revising drafts of the proposals for amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR), for approval by the World Health Assembly (WHA). They are expected to be presented at the 76th WHA meeting in May, 2023. As they are amendments, rather than a new regulation, they require only a simple majority of countries to pass. The IHR has force under international law.

The WHO was set up after the Second World War as the health arm of the United Nations, to support efforts to improve population health globally. Based on the concept that health went beyond the physical (encompassing “physical, mental and social well-being”), its constitution was premised on the concept that all people were equal and born with basic inviolable rights. The world in 1946 was emerging from the brutality of colonialism and international fascism; the results of centralised authority and of regarding people to be fundamentally unequal. The WHO constitution aimed to put populations in charge of health.

In recent decades the WHO has evolved as its support base of core funding allocated by countries, based on GDP, evolved to a model where most funding is directed to specified uses, and much is provided by private and corporate interests. The priorities of the WHO have evolved accordingly, moving away from community-centred care to a more vertical, commodity-based approach. This inevitably follows the interests and self-interests of these funders; these changes are important to putting the proposed IHR amendments in context.

The amendments are written to fundamentally change the power structure between WHO, Member States, and individuals within those states. Rather than Regulations being based on ‘full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons’ (ie consistent with the Universal Declaration on Human Rights – UDHR), this is replaced by principles of ‘equity, inclusivity and coherence’, not further defined, that are stated to be dependent on social and economic context, ie rights are unequal and determined by others. 

The provisions require the WHO to be the overriding authority in public health emergencies, defined as any situation that the WHO Director General (DG) deems to have the potential to cause health problems across borders. The powers allotted to WHO include the confinement and forced medication of people, rights to take and share intellectual property and manufacturing knowhow, and requiring States to contribute resources including manufacturing output. A surveillance system being put in place, to be overseen by WHO, will ensure that potential threats, normal in nature, are frequently identified. There is no legal jurisdiction to sanction the WHO for abuse of power. 

Call to Action

Please send our open letter to your MP, asking them to lobby members of the scrutiny committees to whom it was sent now two and a half months ago .

Below are just a few glaring extracts from the draft amendments, annotated to provide context. The full additions and deletions to the text can be viewed on the WHO IHR Working Group site

Notes:  All quotes from WHO draft are inset and in italics.  In keeping with the draft, new wording is bolded and underlined. Deleted words are indicated by strikethrough.

1.   Setting the scene: Establishing WHO authority over individuals and national governments in health-related decision-making

Article 1: Definitions

“health products” include therapeutics, vaccines, medical devices, personal protective equipment, diagnostics, assistive products, cell- and gene-based therapies, and their components, materials, or parts.”

health technologies and ‘know-how’ includes organised set or combination of knowledge, skills, health products, procedures, databases and systems developed to solve a health problem and improve quality of life, including those relating to development or manufacture of health products or their combination, its application or usage,

The relevance of these additions is seen in Article 12 & 13A below.  Countries will be required to give these up on WHO demand. This would be unacceptable to most existing legal systems and corporations.

“standing recommendation” means non-binding advice issued by WHO

“temporary recommendation” means non-binding advice issued by WHO

The removal of the ‘non-binding’ is consistent with the requirement later for States to consider the ‘recommendations’ of the DG to be ‘obligatory’.

Article 2: Scope and purpose (of the IHR)

The purpose and scope of these Regulations are to prevent, protect against, prepare, control and provide a public health response to the international spread of diseases including through health systems readiness and resilience in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risk all risks with a potential to impact public health, and which …

Note wording changed from ‘restricted to public health risk’ to ‘restricted to all risks with a potential to impact public health.’ Public health is an extremely broad term, and potential risks can be any virus, toxin, human behavioural change, article or other information source that could affect anything in this vast field. If in operation, this would provide WHO with a jurisdiction over anything potentially vaguely pertaining to some change in health or well-being, as perceived by the DG or delegated staff. Such broad rights to interfere and take control would not normally be allowed to a government department. In this case, there is no direct oversight from a parliament representing people, and no specific legal jurisdiction to comply with. It allows the DG to insert himself and give recommendations (no longer ‘non-binding’ on almost anything pertaining to societal life (health, in WHO’s definition, is physical, mental and social well being).

Article 3: Principles

The implementation of these Regulations shall be with full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons based on the principles of equity, inclusivity, coherence and in accordance with their common but differentiated responsibilities of the States Parties, taking into consideration their social and economic development.

This signals a fundamental change in the human rights approach of the UN, including the Universal Declaration on Human Rights (UDHR) to which all UN countries are signatories.  The concept of broad, fundamental rights (equal for all) is removed, and replaced with vacuous wording ‘equity, inclusivity, coherence’. In the new world order, human rights (of the individual) are seen as based on economic and ‘social’ development. This implies that wealthy and poor have different rights, and there is a hierarchy of ‘development’ that defines one’s rights. This is a return to a feudalist or colonialist view of human rights (in many respects the excuses used to justify slavery), that the post-War WHO and UDHR had sought to move away from.

The implementation of these Regulations shall be guided by the goal of their universal application for the protection of all people of the world from the international spread of disease. When implementing these Regulations, Parties and WHO should exercise precaution, in particular when dealing with unknown pathogens

Again, addition of a clause that enables WHO to override human rights previously stated, including for speculative (unknown) threats.

Article 4: Responsible authorities

Each country is required to appoint a ‘National Competent Authority for WHO to liaise with. Seemingly innocuous, but reflects the mindset change in status within these regulations, with the WHO becoming a body requiring compliance, no longer ‘suggesting’ or ‘supporting’.

2.   Establishing the international pandemic preparedness bureaucracy with WHO at the centre

Article 5: Surveillance

These amendments establish/expand a periodic review mechanism, similar to the UN human rights office. Although in itself innocuous, it is a very large resource drain especially for smaller countries, and requires (as in the human rights compliance case) a dedicated large international (WHO) bureaucracy and consultant base. WHO will require regular detailed reports, send assessors, and require changes. This raises questions on both (1) sovereignty in health and (2) rational and appropriate use of resources. WHO is not assessing a country’s broad health needs here, it is assessing one small aspect and dictating the resources spent on it, irrespective of other health burdens. This is a fundamentally dangerous way to manage public health and means resources are unlikely to be spent for maximum overall benefit, but diverted to projects of the WHO’s choosing.

Article 10: Verification

If the State Party does not accept the offer of collaboration within 48 hours , WHO may shall, when justified by the magnitude of the public health risk, immediately share with other States Parties the information available to it, whilst encouraging the State Party to accept the offer of collaboration by WHO, taking into account the views of the State Party concerned.

WHO gains power to share information from a State or pertaining to a State with other States, without consent. This is remarkable: it is vital to understand that the WHO is unaccountable beyond the WHA.

Article 11: Exchange of Information (Formerly provision of information by WHO)

This article enables WHO to share information obtained as discussed above, to both UN and non-governmental bodies (allowed recipients changed from (formerly) relevant intergovernmental to (now) relevant international and regional organisations (ie now including organisations not related to national governments).  

This presumably includes the likes of CEPI, GAVI and Unitaid – organisations with private and corporate  board representatives with direct financial conflicts of interest.

Parties referred to in those provisions, shall not make this information generally available to other States Parties, until such time as when:  (a) the event is determined to constitute a public health emergency of international concern [PHEIC], a public health emergency of regional concern, or warrants an intermediate public health alert, in accordance with Article 12; or …

This widens the criteria determining when WHO can disseminate information from sovereign States (without their consent) from PHEIC to ‘health alert’ (which in practice the DG or subordinates could apply to almost anything). This could occur, as specified later in the Article, when WHO staff decide a sovereign State does not have ‘capacity’ to handle a problem, or when WHO staff decide (with unspecified criteria) that it is necessary to share information with others to make ‘timely’ risk assessments. This allows unelected WHO staff, on salaries supported from external conflicted entities, to disseminate information from States directly relevant to those entities, based on their own assessment of risk and response, against undefined criteria.

3.     Widening ‘public health emergency’ definition to include any health or pathogen-related event at DG’s discretion, and requiring States’ compliance

Article 12: Determination of a public health emergency of international concern, public health emergency of regional concern, or intermediate health alert

If the Director-General considers, based on an assessment under these Regulations, that a potential or actual public health emergency of international concern is occurring ….. determines that the event constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, and the State Party are in agreement regarding this determination, the Director-General shall notify all the States Parties, in accordance with the procedure set forth in Article 49, seek the views of the Committee established under Article 48 (but is not required to follow them)

This removes the requirement for States to agree to release of information pertaining to that State. DG can declare a PHEIC against States’ wishes and instructions. WHO becomes the dominant party, no longer the servant of the sovereign State.

If, following the consultation in paragraph 2 above, the Director-General and the State Party in whose territory the event arises do not come to a consensus within 48 hours on whether the event constitutes a public health emergency of international concern, a determination shall be made in accordance with the procedure set forth in Article 49.

Regional Director may determine that an event constitutes a public health emergency of regional concern and provide related guidance to States Parties in the region either before or after notification of an event that may constitute a public health emergency of international concern is made to the Director-General, who shall inform all States Parties

Regional directors appear to be granted similar powers, though full implications are unclear.

In case of any engagement with non-State actors in WHO’s public health response to PHEIC situation, WHO shall follow the provisions of Framework for Engagement of Non-State Actors (FENSA). Any departure from FENSA provisions shall be consistent with paragraph 73 of FENSA.

The WHO Framework for Engagement of Non-State Actors (FENSA) allows the DG to “exercise flexibility in the application of the procedures of FENSA” in the case of a health emergency (scope greatly widened by amendments to Articles 2 & 12, above to any concern the DG has of potential harm) irrespective of State agreement.

Developed State Parties and WHO shall offer assistance to developing State Parties depending on the availability of finance, technology and knowhow….

A line fascinating mainly for its anachronistic (but telling) use of the colonialist-like terms ‘developed’ and ‘developing’, in this formerly egalitarian WHO context.

The State Party shall accept or reject such an offer of assistance within 48 hours and, in the case of rejection of such an offer, shall provide to WHO its rationale for the rejection, which WHO shall share with other States Parties. Regarding on-site assessments, in compliance with its national law, a State Party shall make reasonable efforts to facilitate short-term access to relevant sites; in the event of a denial, it shall provide its rationale for the denial of access.

WHO will be set as the dominant partner. States must comply or provide excuses for not agreeing with WHO’s diktats.

When requested by WHO, States Parties should shall provide, to the extent possible, support to WHO-coordinated response activities, including supply of health products and technologies, especially diagnostics and other devices, personal protective equipment, therapeutics, and vaccines, for effective response to PHEIC occurring in another State Party’s jurisdiction and/or territory, capacity building for the incident management systems as well as for rapid response teams.

‘Should’ changed to ‘shall’, requires States to provide resources at WHO request for a PHEIC of an event the DG considers may pose a potential threat (eg monkeypox). This begins a following theme of WHO acquiring the ability to order States to provide resources, ‘knowhow’ and intellectual property when ordered by the DG to do so.

NEW Article 13A: WHO Led International Public Health Response

This new article explicitly lays out the new international public health order, with WHO centre stage, rather than national sovereignty being paramount.

States Parties recognize WHO as the guidance and coordinating authority of international public health response during Public Health Emergency of International Concern and undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations in their international public health response.

This requires States to follow WHO recommendations in a PHEIC – declared by an individual (DG) whose position is determined by non-democratic states and who is open to wide influence by private and corporate money. The criteria for PHEIC are deliberately vague, and at the DG’s discretion.

This is an amazing reversal of roles of WHO versus States, and clearly abrogates sovereignty.

The wild excesses of the Covid response should give pause for thought here. WHO could for example mandate abrogation of bodily autonomy on States, regarding medication or vaccination, or testing.

Upon request of WHO, States Parties with the production capacities shall undertake measures to scale up production of health products, including through diversification of production, technology transfer and capacity building especially in the developing countries.

WHO can require (tell) countries to scale up production of certain products – to interfere with markets and commerce, at WHO’s (DG’s) discretion. 

4.      WHO requiring countries to provide resources, intellectual property and knowhow at WHO’s discretion.

NEW Article 13A: Access to Health Products, Technologies and Know-How for Public Health Response

States Parties shall co-operate with each other and WHO to comply with such recommendations pursuant to paragraph 1 and shall take measures to ensure timely availability and affordability of required health products such as diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, and other medical devices required for the effective response to a public health emergency of international concern….

States Parties shall provide, in their intellectual property laws and related laws and regulations, exemptions and limitations to the exclusive rights of intellectual property holders to facilitate the manufacture, export and import of the required health products, including their materials and components.

States Parties shall use or assign to potential manufacturers, especially from developing countries, on a non-exclusive basis, the rights over health product(s) or technology(ies)

Upon request of a State Party, other States Parties or WHO shall rapidly cooperate and share relevant regulatory dossiers submitted by manufacturers concerning safety and efficacy, and manufacturing and quality control processes, within 30 days

Not only shall WHO determine response within State borders, but at WHO’s behest States must provide aid to other countries. States must change their intellectual property (IP) laws, to allow sharing of IP on the DG’s determination of a PHEIC, at his/her discretion, to whomsoever they determine (including private corporations within those States).  Also confidential regulatory dossiers submitted by the manufacturers must be shared – this is about the only item that might be useful!

[WHO shall]..establish a database of raw materials and their potential suppliers..

e) establish a repository for cell-lines to accelerate the production and regulatory of similar biotherapeutics products and vaccines,

WHO holding such materials is unprecedented. Under whose laws and regulatory requirements would this be done? Who is responsible for damage and harm? 

States Parties shall take measures to ensure that the activities of non-state actors, especially the manufacturers and those claiming associated intellectual property rights, do not conflict with the right to the highest attainable standard of health and these Regulations and are in compliance with measures taken by the WHO and the States Parties under this provision, which includes:….

d)  to share the technologies, know-how for the diversification of production

This effectively means, as worded, that WHO can require any state to release almost any confidential product and intellectual property on any product related to the health sector.  On their own criteria, WHO can declare an event, then require a State to contribute resources and give up sole rights to intellectual property of its citizens, and share information to allow others to manufacture their products in direct competition. WHO also requires States to donate products on the DG’s demand. 

To understand the scope of the intellectual property rights to be forfeited to the DG, look back at Article 1 defining them as health technologies and “know-how” [including] organized set or combination of knowledge, skills, health products, procedures….

5.      WHO claiming control of individuals and their rights within States

Article 18:  Recommendations with respect to persons, baggage, cargo, containers, conveyances, goods and postal parcels.

Recommendations issued by WHO to States Parties with respect to persons may include the following advice:…..

–  review proof of medical examination and any laboratory analysis;

–        require medical examinations;

–        review proof of vaccination or other prophylaxis;

–        require vaccination or other prophylaxis;

–        place suspect persons under public health observation;

–        implement quarantine or other health measures for suspect persons;

–        implement isolation and treatment where necessary of affected persons;

–        implement tracing of contacts of suspect or affected persons;

–        refuse entry of suspect and affected persons;

–        refuse entry of unaffected persons to affected areas; and

–  implement exit screening and/or restrictions on persons from affected areas.

This (Article 18) was already in existence. New Article 13A, however, now requires States ‘undertake to follow WHO’s recommendations in their international public health response’.  WHO will thus now be able, based on the sole determination of an individual (DG) under influence of non-democratic states and private entities, to require States to incarcerate their citizens, inject them, require identification of medical status, medically examine, isolate and restrict travel.

ensure mechanisms to develop and apply a traveller’s health declaration in international public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) to provide better information about travel itinerary, possible symptoms that could be manifested or any prevention measures that have been complied with such as facilitation of contact tracing, if necessary.

WHO can require the availability of private travel (itinerary) information, and require the provision of medical travel documents. This requires the disclosure of private medical information to WHO. This is a globalist agenda beyond your worst nightmares.

Article 23:  Health measures on arrival and departure

Documents containing information concerning traveller’s destination (hereinafter Passenger Locator Forms, PLFs) should preferably be produced in digital form, with paper form as a residual option. Such information should not duplicate the information the traveller already submitted in relation to the same journey, provided the competence authority can have access to it for the purpose of contact tracing.

Text (clearly needs further work) aimed at future requirements for vaccine passports for travel.

6. WHO setting the scene for digital health passports

The following sections clearly presage digital IDs containing health information that must be available to enable travel (i.e. not at individual’s discretion), with the WHO / WHA to set international travel requirements.  While not entirely new here, this is expanded by the expansion of PHEIC provisions, and focused more on the DG’s determination. It is moving from national sovereignty to a trans-national travel control beyond national sovereignty – not directly answerable to populations, but heavily funded and influenced by private interests. This is in contravention of the UDHR which includes a basic right to travel.

Article 35: General rule

Digital health documents must incorporate means to verify their authenticity via retrieval from an official web site, such as a QR code.

Article 36:  Certificates of vaccination or other prophylaxis

Such proofs may include test certificates and recovery certificates. These certificates may be designed and approved by the Health Assembly according to the provisions set out for digital vaccination or prophylaxis certificates, and should be deemed as substitutes for, or be complementary to, the digital or paper certificates of vaccination or prophylaxis.

Health measures taken pursuant to these Regulations, including the recommendations made under Article 15 and 16, shall be initiated and completed without delay by all State Parties

State Parties shall also take measures to ensure Non-State Actors operating in their respective territories comply with such measures.

Requirement for all countries to comply with these recommendations. Also requires private entities and citizens within States to comply (which likely requires changes of many national laws, and the relationship between government and people). This requires a totalitarian approach from the State, subject to a totalitarian approach from a supra-state (but clearly not meritocratic) entity. Following these IHR revisions, the DG of WHO, at his discretion, has capacity to order private entities and citizens in any country to comply with his/her directives.

7. WHO being empowered to order changes within States, including restrictions on freedom of speech

Article 43: Additional health measures

[Measures implemented by States shall not be more restrictive than.]…would achieve attain the appropriate highest achievable level of health protection.

These changes are very significant. ‘Appropriate’ meant taking into account the costs and balancing these against potential gains. It is a sensible approach that takes the whole of society and population needs into account (good public health).

‘highest achievable level of protection’ means elevating this problem (an infectious disease or potential disease) above all other health and human / societal concerns. This reflects a lack of thought and poor understanding of public health, as exemplified recently by the failure of governments to consider the potential economic, educational and health problems of lockdowns.

WHO may request that shall make recommendations to the State Party concerned reconsider to modify or rescind the application of the additional health measures…

WHO DG now can require removal of health regulations (States have agreed to ‘recommendations’ being binding above). As elsewhere, WHO is now the instructing party, not the suggesting party. WHO takes sovereignty over what were formerly State matters. The following paragraph requires response in 2 weeks rather than formerly 3 months.

Article 44: Collaboration and assistance

States Parties shall undertake to collaborate with and assist each other, in particular developing counties States Parties, upon request, to the extent possible, :…

in countering the dissemination of false and unreliable information about public health events, preventive and anti-epidemic measures and activities in the media, social networks and other ways of disseminating such information

the formulation of proposed laws and other legal and administrative provisions for the implementation of these Regulations

States undertake to work with WHO to control information and limit free speech (based on their own criteria of what is right and wrong) and agree to pass laws to implement restrictions on free speech and sharing of information.

8. Nuts and Bolts of the verification bureaucracy to ensure countries follow WHO requirements.

NEW Chapter IV (Article 53 bis-quarter): The Compliance Committee

State Parties shall establish a Compliance Committee that shall be responsible for:

(a) Considering information submitted to it by WHO and States Parties relating to compliance with obligations under these Regulations;

(b) Monitoring, advising on, and/or facilitating assistance on matters relating to compliance with a view to assisting States Parties to comply with obligations under these Regulations;

(c) Promoting compliance by addressing concerns raised by States Parties regarding implementation of, and compliance with, obligations under these Regulations; and

(d) Submitting an annual report to each Health Assembly….

2. The Compliance Committee shall be authorized to:

(e) Make recommendations to a State Party concerned and/or WHO regarding how the State Party may improve compliance and any recommended technical assistance and financial support.

This sets up a permanent review mechanism to monitor the compliance of States with WHO’s diktats on public health. This is a huge new bureaucracy, both centrally (WHO) and with a significant resource drain on each State. It reflects the review mechanism of the UN human rights office.

9. More on WHO requiring states to provide taxpayer money for WHO’s work, and restricting freedom of populations to question this work.


Developed Countries States parties shall provide financial and technological assistance to the Developing Countries States Parties in order to ensure state-of-the-art facilities in developing countries States Parties, including through international financial mechanism…

States shall provide (ie divert from other priorities) aid funding to help other States develop capacity. This has a clear opportunity cost in other disease /societal programs where funding must accordingly be reduced. However, this will no longer be in the budgetary control of States, but required by an external entity (WHO).

At a global level, WHO shall…  Counter misinformation and disinformation.

As above, WHO takes the role of policing / countering free speech and exchange of information (funded by the taxes of those whose speech they are suppressing).  Read the Big Brother Watch report, The Ministry of Truth, to see how this is already working in the UK.

Useful links

The WHO documents regarding the IHR amendments: https://apps.who.int/gb/wgihr/index.html

A summary of the amendments and their implications to international law can be found at: https://www.dinekevankooten.nl/wp-content/uploads/Whotreatyonpandemisprepardness.pdf

Call to Action

Please send our open letter to your MP, asking them to lobby members of the scrutiny committees to whom it was sent now two and a half months ago .

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