advocating for our public health
Negotiations are currently taking place to significantly expand the control of the World Health Organization (WHO) over global public health responses and thinking via a) amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005), and b) a pandemic treaty/accord (WHO CA+).
if approved, would greatly enhance the powers of the WHO as well as its Director-General.
Their new powers would include the power to declare a pandemic anywhere in the world, dictate new bio surveillance regimes and restrictions on travel, the regulation of free speech, as well as pushing profitable pharmaceutical products.
Bahamian sovereignty on all health matters will be given to an unelected global body that appears to be operating within a biopharmaceutical complex, which includes the WHO, the United Nations, the World Economic Forum, the Gates Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, the Wellcome Trust, GAVI, UNITAID, and CEPI that the Gates Foundation and the W.E.F. have funded.
OPTIMIST General Concern Relating to WHO
Lack of Accountability
The WHO in its founding document exempted itself from criminal charges. The Convention of privileges and immunities Article F Section 13 provides for “(a) Immunity from personal arrest or detention and from seizure of their personal baggage, and in respect of words spoken or written and all acts done by them in their official capacity, immunity from legal process of every kind.” The WHO is therefore theoretically able to act recklessly without any recourse or ability to be challenged by our government.
Conflict of Interest and Pharma Bias
A significant amount of funding for the WHO comes from Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), foundations, and other non-state entities as well as the private sector, who have a bias for profitable pharmaceutical products. “The draft reflects a process disproportionately guided by corporate demands and the policy positions of high-income governments seeking to protect the power of private actors in health including the pharmaceutical industry.”
OPTIMIST Key Points of Concern Pandemic Treaty
WHO Increased Control of Bahamian Public Health Policy
Parties to the treaty, according to the Concept Zero Draft, have to recognize the central role of the WHO as “the directing and coordinating authority on global health” (WHO 2023b: 5) as well as its central role “as the directing and coordinating authority on international health work, in pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery of health system, and in convening and generating scientific evidence” (ibid.: 4). We believe this constitutes a serious threat to our health sovereignty.
Authority Speeding Up the Approval for Drugs and Injections
Article 7(2)(b) of the Conceptual Zero Draft seeks to dramatically speed up the process by which products are authorized and brought to the market. The lessons of the COVID pandemic show that reducing regulatory standards for the regular approval of novel products still in an experimental phase carries considerable safety risks. A recent article in the International Journal of Molecular Science identified the many important safety steps that were skipped with the COVID vaccines.
Support for Risky Gain-Of-Function Research
Article 8 of the Conceptual Zero Draft supports gain-of-function (GOF) research despite its exceptional biosafety hazards. A House Intelligence Committee report and The Senate Report in 2023 both concluded that a lab-leak was the most likely origin of the pandemic. A paper in Frontiers concluded “the risks of GOF research are clearer now than when it was debated earlier, whereas the pandemic has shown that its benefits may be less significant. Therefore, it is now time to rethink the risk/benefit calculus of GOF research."
Undefined Global Review System to Oversee Health Systems
Article 12 and Article 20 of the Conceptual Zero Draft call for a Global Review Mechanism over how individual sovereign nations support and structure their public health care systems. This would include the ability to monitor the nation’s progress in complying with the treaty and would require the submission of periodic reports and reviews. The oversight mechanisms fail to clearly define the metrics and other criteria by which any compliance review would be based and is left to be decided at the first meeting of the Conference after adoption and ratification of the treaty.
Expanding Censorship of Competing Views
Article 17 of the Conceptual Zero Draft encourages the tackling of what the W.H.O. regards as “false, mis-leading, misinformation or disinformation, including through promotion of international cooperation” (WHO 2023b: 23). The proposed treaty also asks for the explicit identification of “profiles of misinformation” (ibid.: 23). Neither the proposed pandemic treaty nor the amended IHR recognize the fact that the WHO and executive branches of government have put out significant amounts of false and misleading information throughout the COVID pandemic.
Risky Sharing of Pathogen Samples and Genetic Sequence Data
Article 10 of the Conceptual Zero Draft would set up a WHO Pathogen Access and Benefit Sharing System (PABS System). We believe that the PABS System as proposed and accessible by all State Parties (which currently include dictatorships, countries engaged in war and state sponsors of terrorism) presents a liability. Any wider sharing of pandemic potential pathogens (PPPs) and their genetic sequence data has significant security implications. Information and materials can be misused by state or non-state actors to develop biological weapons or enhance their biological warfare capabilities. The WHO cannot guarantee that data or material shared via the PABS System will not end up in the wrong hands.
Seeking to Control the Concept of One-Health
Article 17 of the Conceptual Zero Draft would implement a complex system known as One-Health in which control over human health, pet health, domesticated animal, farm animal and wild animal health and agricultural plant health and the overall health of the natural environment. Through the One Health agenda, the WHO will have the power to make decisions in matters relating to the environment (including greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and deforestation), animal health (e.g. livestock) and human health (including vaccinations, social determinants and population movement). With these extended powers, the WHO could readily declare a climate or environmental emergency and enforce lockdowns, with little or no redress by its signatories.
Lack of legal definition of terms
Important terms have not been legally defined “pandemic” (112 times), “response” (106 times), “preparedness” (74 times), “prevention” (68 times), “recovery” (52 times), “public health” (44 times), “equity” (32 times) and pandemic response products (27 times). Lack of clear definitions can result in ambiguity, leading to different interpretations of the document's provisions, and increased disputes between parties. Individuals involved in the implementation of the agreements may apply terms inconsistently. Legal uncertainty can create a challenging environment for compliance and decision-making. Resolving disputes or clarifying ambiguous terms requires additional time and resources
OPTIMIST Key Points of Concern International Health Regulations (IHR)
Mandatory rather than Advisory Powers
Under Article 1, standing and temporary recommendations issued by the WHO would now be legally-binding, which changes the overall nature of the WHO from an advisory organization that merely makes recommendations to a governing body whose proclamations would be legally valid and, therefore, enforceable. We believe powerful nation states and private stakeholders in alignment with the directives as well as the WHO itself could further use the revised IHR as a legal framework in trying to legitimize health colonialism and financially pressuring low-income countries into compliance, severely undermining their sovereignty in the process.
Potential Rather Than Actual Emergencies
Article 2 greatly expands the scope of the IHRs to include scenarios that merely have a "potential to impact public health (PHEIC)”, the definitions of which are open to interpretation. The Director-General declared a PHEIC for monkeypox in 2023 despite being overruled by the WHO Emergency Committee. 9-6 against. In a world where 74% of people die annually from communicable diseases, the WHO remarkably focused on monkeypox, for which a vaccine was in the pipeline. The Director-General was above the law in his recommendation and there was no ability by member countries to hold him or the WHO accountable.
Removal of Human Rights
Article 3 seeks to remove "respect for dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of people." and replace it “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.” The current draft fails to enshrine core human rights standards protected under international law, most notably the right to health and informed consent, therefore risking a repeat of the tragic failures during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mandatory Medical Treatments
Article 18 will give the WHO the authority to require medical examinations, proof of prophylaxis, proof of vaccine and to implement contact tracing, quarantine and treatment. Any mandatory medical treatments must require Informed Consent under Article 6 of the Universal Declaration of Bioethics & Human Rights, UNESCO 2005, which states that “Any preventative, diagnostic & therapeutic medical intervention is only to be carried out with the prior, free & informed CONSENT of the person concerned based on adequate information... and may be withdrawn by the person concerned at any time and for any reason.”
Loss of Sovereignty
Article 43 would empower the Emergency Committee to override decisions made by sovereign nations regarding health measures and would make the Emergency Committee's decisions final. We believe in the argument of “Subsidiarity" that solutions can be found at the local level rather than by “one size fits all” decree from above. When policy and decision-making proceed not by evolution but by decree, instead of addressing themselves to the project of error correction, scientific institutions serve not science, but the narrative of the day.
Annex 1 will greatly expand the WHO's capacity to censor what they consider to be misinformation and dis-information. Dr. Marty Makary, speaking at the House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, stated that “The greatest perpetrator of misinformation during the pandemic has been the US government.", who misinformed the general public that COVID was spread through surface transmission, that vaccinated immunity was far greater than natural immunity, that masks were effective... That myocarditis was more common after the infection than the vaccine.
Obligations of Duty to Cooperate
Annex 10 creates an obligation to build, provide and maintain IHR infrastructure at points of entry. This could impose unspecified enormous financial costs on our archipelagic nation with multiple points of entry. Small Island Development States (SIDS) already have significant challenges ensuring the security of each entry point, implementing effective surveillance and monitoring systems across numerous islands, developing and maintaining infrastructure, and enforcing customs and border controls.