The British public challenge ceding of sovereignty to World Health Organization

A Parliamentary hearing was held in the UK parliament in response to a petition demanding the UK Government not sign any WHO Pandemic Treaty unless approved by public referendum. The responses are clear that many have serious concerns about the World Health Organization (WHO) proposals.

On 17 April 2023, a Parliamentary hearing was held in the United Kingdom in response to e-petition 614335, entitled: Do not sign any WHO Pandemic Treaty unless it is approved via public referendum. It is clear from the fact that a total of 156,086 signatures were collected, and that the debate was very well attended, that many have serious concerns about the Pandemic Treaty and amendments to the International Health Regulations (IHR) proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO). 

WHO is the United Nations agency responsible for global public health. It aims to “lead global efforts to expand universal health coverage and … coordinate the world’s response to health emergencies.” WHO has 194 member states whose responsibilities are outlined in the IHR promulgated in 1969 and amended in 2005. These regulations are not legally binding and serve as guidance rather than enforceable mandates. In the wake of the Covid-19 event, however, this is set to change. 

In response to member states calling for more effective global cooperation to protect countries from health emergencies, a new international legally binding instrument is being developed to strengthen pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response. This process was initiated in late 2021 at a Special Session of WHO’s governing body, the World Health Assembly. One aspect of this process is the amendment of the IHR, which will become enforceable under international law. Another aspect is the drafting of a ‘Pandemic Treaty’, known as WHO CA+, which describes financing, governance, and supply network responsibilities in the event of future disease outbreaks and other public health emergencies. 

It amounts to a vast transfer of power to the WHO…[and] represents an assault on our freedoms.


This video provides clips from the two-and-a-quarter-hour hearing, which illustrate some of the significant arguments made by those supporting the petition. 

In summary, concerns raised related to:

  • A lack of commitment to national sovereignty and the democratic process by the UK Government, resulting in a loss of trust and confidence in the Government
  • WHO’s increasing tendency to centralise control rather than recognise the value of subsidiarity, debate and local decision-making
  • Concerns about WHO’s leadership, its influential and conflicted partners, and lack of accountability to member states
  • The potential negative impacts of WHO becoming an international authority with legal standing
  • Concerns about WHO’s lack of capacity and unwillingness to reflect on its failures.

Publisher’s note: The opinions and findings expressed in articles, reports and interviews on this website are not necessarily the opinions of PANDA, its directors or associates.

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