By Brian monteith – 4 minute read
AFTER ALL WE have witnessed these last two years there are only two ways we can choose to manage our public health response to global pandemics.
The first is to recognise we were patronised, manipulated, lied to, censored, sometimes criminalised or put under effective house arrest, unable to see our loved ones, attend funerals or even go a simple walk outdoors, financially ruined and driven to despair that some of us could not take any more of – and once accepting that we can ensure by making those who make such decisions will in future be fully accountable so such enforced control never happens again.
The second is to put our trust in people who are not even distant to us in our own land, but worse, are so far away figuratively and literally they will never be accountable, never know what we want and never fear or feel the heat from making the wrong decisions and paying a price – be it shame, condemnation and public ridicule or even incarceration.
The Public Inquiry into the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has only just decided its terms of reference and is nowhere near sitting down to hear evidence – yet we now know the World Health Organisation is seeking to enter into international treaties with governments around the globe so it will have the power to direct the measures to be taken in response to the next Covid-like pandemic. If ever there is an opportunity to ensure we repatriate responsibility away from multilateral and supranational agencies that claim, falsely, to speak in our name and act in our interests, then it is this moment where we can halt the ceding of any control around how we respond to future pandemics.
There is a case for sharing of information, for solidarity and co-operation in helping with responses, sourcing materials, collaborating on scientific analysis and many other aspects to defeating a pandemic – but there is also a vital need for those who take the key decisions to be accountable to those whom they affect. This is peoples’ lives we are talking about – and not just limiting those who may die but also ensuring the life costs to the living are not hidden and greater.
Were WHO beyond suspicion for making poor judgements in its medical and public health pronouncements during the Covid-19 pandemic it would still be a huge leap to outsource decision making to this supranational body – but it is not without responsibility. It has a case to answer for many of the decisions it took that at the very least sowed doubt on what it knew or now knows about the origin of the virus and the conduct of its investigations. No UK Government can simply stride on and sign the country up for its healthcare services, personal and economic freedoms to be controlled by techncrats who have no responsibility to those whom they serve.
There is then the very important question as to just how much WHO is under the influence of China’s Communist Party regime and what that might mean in terms of national and international security. The thought of a leading power and the world’s second largest economy having at its disposal the means to create a virus and then direct the response to it were it to be circulating in public is frankly horrifying. And I write those words as someone who is 100% signed-up to the School of Cock-ups rather than the Nursery of Conspiracy Theories.
Even if China is not well placed to manipulate WHO policy, it is highly dubious whether any future Government should hand the power to respond to something as potentially harmful as a pandemic, to unelected bodies which may be controlled by those hostile to our national interests. The petition ‘Do not sign any WHO Pandemic Treaty unless it is approved via public referendum‘ reproduced below and submitted to the Houses of Parliament has now attracted over 117,000 signatures and will therefore be debated at Westminster Hall by our politicians. I have no idea of the background or motives of those promoting the call for a particular referendum before signing up to anything proposed by WHO, but in principle it has attractions.
It would be democratic, it would mean a debate where people are informed and it would mean consent would be required and neither given or denied. That’s democracy.
Better still, I believe, would be to introduce a more general rule that such delegation of powers by our governments be constrained by, for example, a general constitutional principle that no Government can pass part of the democratic sovereignty of the UK to a third party without obtaining the clear consent of its people by achieving an absolute majority of the entire population in a referendum.
That would provide cover for many other egregious demands made on our governments that might change our lives and shape our societies that we are never consulted on – but which the move to technocratic, unrepresentative and undemocratic unelected elites presents presents a great risk to our freedoms to not just speak or act – but even think. For that reason this blog is inviting more writers to discuss the issues at hand raised by the possibility of putting WHO in charge and if you are interested to you are more than welcome to submit your thoughts to me.
In the meantime what we need is two things – for the Government to give a clear statement that it is in no rush to sign up to a WHO pandemic treaty and, secondly, that it recognises it must give itself time to take stock of the Public Inquiry’s findings before rushing into any relationships with organisations that may be found to have been less than honest in their dealings with national governments. We owe it to those who suffered due to the pandemic and the pandemic responses that we do not repeat the mistakes made.
Brian Monteith, Editor, Time for Recovery blog
“We want the Government to commit to not signing any international treaty on pandemic prevention and preparedness established by the World Health Organization (WHO), unless this is approved through a public referendum.
The WHO is currently preparing an international agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response.
We believe the public must be furnished with the full ramifications of what and how any pandemic treaty could affect them, and be given a public vote on whether the UK should sign up, before the UK Government signs up to this.”