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The Biden administration is negotiating a controversial global pandemic treaty with the World Health Organization (WHO) that the health agency says will help the world prepare for the next pandemic and the potential outbreak of “Disease X,” but critics say the agreement will end up stifling free speech and cede American sovereignty to the global body.

The WHO has been sounding the alarm for months that a May deadline for having the text of the treaty agreed upon is fast approaching, an accord it says is necessary to “bolster the world’s collective preparedness and response to future pandemics.” The health agency wants to ratify the treaty at the World Health Assembly at its May 2024 Annual General Assembly.

Last week, dozens of former heads of state, including former U.K. Prime Ministers Tony Blair and Gordon Brown, as well as former UN General Secretary Ban-ki Moon, penned a joint letter urging “accelerated progress” in current negotiations while WHO Director Tedros Ghebreyesus has been warning that an agreement is needed for “when, not if,” Disease X strikes. Disease X is a hypothetical “placeholder” virus that has not yet been formed, but scientists say it could be 20 times deadlier than COVID-19. 


Student COVID test

A girl having swab laboratory test at doctor’s office during the Covid-19 pandemic. (iStock)

But critics are casting doubt on the unelected agency’s need for such an agreement that would demand the U.S. share its public health data with the agency and more than 190 countries and follow WHO rules on how to prepare and react to the next pandemic. The treaty, critics say, would allow the WHO to dictate global public health policy. For instance, the word “shall” appears throughout the draft document which would be legally binding under the agreement. 

Opponents also say that a public health emergency is not clearly defined and could be extended to include climate, reproductive health or immigration emergencies. 

Rep. Brad Wenstrup, R-Oh., who chairs the House Oversight and Accountability Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, says that sovereignty and intellectual property rights of Americans are threatened by the global accord.

“The Biden Administration must ensure that the final draft does not violate American sovereignty or infringe upon the rights of the American people,” Wenstrup told Fox News Digital.” Without being presented to Congress for approval, any pandemic treaty is wholly insufficient.”

Under the constitution, the U.S. can only enter a treaty if the president submits the accord to the Senate, and it is approved by a two-thirds majority. 

President Joe Biden

President Joe Biden at the White House on Dec. 13, 2023, in Washington, D.C. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Advancing American Freedom (AAF), a non-profit advocacy group founded by former Vice President Mike Pence, says that the treaty undermines U.S. sovereignty and insists it would leave the U.S. worse off for a future pandemic. 

“The United States should withdraw from the World Health Organization,” John Shelton, the policy director at AAF tells Fox News Digital.  

“Instead, the Biden Administration continues to negotiate a fundamentally flawed draft that sells out American interests. No treaty should be considered without a change in WHO leadership and accountability for the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), including its role in the COVID-19 pandemic. The WHO remains a geopolitically compromised institution paid for by American tax dollars,” Shelton said. 

The WHO faced strong criticism from around the world over its slow response to investigating China for the COVID outbreak. A WHO team investigating the origins of the coronavirus pandemic also downplayed the possibility that the virus leaked from a lab near Wuhan, China.  


A State Department spokesperson tells Fox News Digital that the U.S. government will oppose any agreement that would undermine U.S. sovereignty, security and economic competitiveness and the right of Americans to make their own health care decisions. Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto is representing the U.S. in discussions with more than 190 nations.

“The Biden-Harris Administration’s most fundamental responsibility is to protect the American people. To do that, we must protect the U.S. against the next pandemic by working with other countries to help detect threats as soon as they emerge, contain those threats at their source, and respond quickly to save lives,” a State Department spokesperson said.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, has dismissed critics who claim the treaty will cede national sovereignty. (Lian Yi/Xinhua via Getty Images)

“Detecting infectious disease threats quickly, and sharing that information widely, is critical to limit global transmission and to rapidly develop necessary diagnostics, vaccines and other countermeasures to mitigate adverse health effects.”

In their letter last week, the former leaders blasted those raising sovereignty concerns and warned that “no one is safe anywhere until everyone is safe everywhere.”

“Among the falsehoods circulating are allegations that the WHO intends to monitor people’s movements through digital passports; that it will take away the national sovereignty of countries; and that it will have the ability to deploy armed troops to enforce mandatory vaccinations and lockdowns,” the letter reads.

“All of these claims are wholly false and governments must work to disavow them with clear facts.”

Tedros has also panned these concerns in the past as “fake news, lies, and conspiracy theories.”

Nevertheless, last year the WHO and the European Commission announced the rollout of a “digital COVID-19 certification” system, which is effectively a digital vaccine passport system.

The World Health Organization logo

In this photo illustration, the World Health Organization (WHO) logo is seen displayed on an android mobile phone with a coronavirus illustration in the background.  (Avishek Das/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, freedom of speech concerns have also been raised by ADF International, a faith-based legal advocacy organization. 

The group says that the current draft would obligate the U.S. and other signees to prevent “misinformation and disinformation” under Article 18 of the draft.

“The revised negotiating text for the WHO Pandemic Agreement continues to misrepresent the human right to freedom of expression as a threat to public health,” said Giorgio Mazzoli, the director of UN Advocacy with ADF International. 


“Everyone agrees that life is precious and that states have an interest in protecting public health. But some of the most grave and systematic human rights abuses of the last century unfolded during public emergencies, and we must be vigilant to protect hard-won rights – especially in times of crisis,” Mazzoli said.

“When it comes to vague and undefined concepts such as ‘misinformation’ or ‘disinformation,’ the currently proposed cure is far worse than the disease.”

The State Department, however, says that any agreement would have to guarantee Americans’ right to freedom of speech.

Negotiations on the latest draft are expected to wrap up later this week.


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