IN SHORT: The World Health Organization’s voluntary pandemic treaty lays out ways countries could cooperate to prevent, prepare for and respond to future pandemics. It doesn’t hand all power over to the WHO. And it’s still being negotiated and nowhere near being ratified.
“I want to bring South Africa’s attention to something very, very, very important,” a man says in a Facebook video warning of “the most scary thing that has come up”.
The man is Arthur Frost, the influential leader of an online South African church.
In the video, posted in April 2023, Frost tells his 67,000 Facebook followers that in late May there will be a “vote taking place” in Geneva, Switzerland. The vote will be to approve a plan that “every nation submits” to the World Health Organization (WHO) to “give them the sole power to shut down your nation – which includes South Africa”.
The video has also been shared via WhatsApp in South Africa, as has a graphic with a very similar message.
The graphic features a message apparently signed by a “Dr E V Rapiti” on 18 May and bears the logos of the “Children's Health Defense: African Chapter”, the “World Council for Health South Africa” and the “African Sovereignty Coalition”.
Rapiti is a family doctor working in Cape Town, South Africa who was widely reported to have used ivermectin to treat Covid-19 at the height of the pandemic, despite health regulators warning against the off-label use of the veterinary antiparasitic.
The message in the graphic reads:
This May 2023, the South African government, without the public's knowledge and consent, will sign in favour of amending the International Health Regulations, which will hand overall power to the incompetent WHO, headed by the evil Dr Tedros, a despicable war crime accused, hated by Ethiopians.
These amendments will give full power to the WHO, which failed in the Covid pandemic, to: 1) declare a pandemic at any time, 2) lock down our country as it pleases, 3) mandate vaccines without our permission and 4) violate our Constitution by totally disregarding our human rights and dignity, when they decide on any health policy for your country.
In the video Frost also singles out WHO director-general Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. Frost says: “Now I need you to understand the implication of this. It means that one person controls the entire world, and will then sit down and say ‘we need a lockdown’ and the entire world will go into a lockdown.”
Frost says Tedros could “lock us down, restrict our travel, restrict all sorts of movement”.
“And this is the foundation for a one world government.”
But are Frost or Rapiti correct that the South African government and other nations are about to give “sole power” over to the WHO, allowing Tedros to control “the entire world”? No.
Draft treaty emphasises sovereignty of nations
Frost is referring to what’s known as the World Health Organization’s pandemic treaty.
This is a voluntary draft treaty for the WHO’s 194 member states, prompted by the “catastrophic failure of the international community in showing solidarity and equity in response to the coronavirus disease”.
It lays out broad recommendations for international cooperation in the prevention of future pandemics, as well as preparedness and response should the world face another deadly disease outbreak like Covid-19.
The treaty is currently a rough draft, known as the “zero draft”, with its terms still being negotiated by member states.
It doesn’t even have a proper name yet. The draft is simply titled “WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response” – shortened to WHO CA+.
The draft treaty does not remove the power of nations and place it in the hands of the WHO. The first item in its preamble reaffirms “the principle of sovereignty of States Parties in addressing public health matters, notably pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and health systems recovery”.
Sovereignty means a government has control of its country’s affairs, without outside control.
The treaty’s guiding principles include a specific section on the independence of nations. It reads:
States have, in accordance with the Charter of the United Nations and the principles of international law, the sovereign right to determine and manage their approach to public health, notably pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery of health systems, pursuant to their own policies and legislation, provided that activities within their jurisdiction or control do not cause damage to their peoples and other countries.
The treaty does not mention the words “lockdown” or “travel” at all. And its only reference to “restrictions” and “movement” is in article 14 – Protection of human rights.
Dr David Freedman, professor emeritus of infectious diseases at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the US, told the Associated Press that the WHO would have no power to punish nations that broke the provisions of the treaty “other than largely symbolic actions akin to an international ‘slap on the wrist’”.
Timeline of the treaty
In March 2021 a group of 25 world leaders, including South African president Cyril Ramaphosa, announced that “nations should work together towards a new international treaty for pandemic preparedness and response”.
The main goal of this treaty would be to foster an all of government and all of society approach, strengthening national, regional and global capacities and resilience to future pandemics. This includes greatly enhancing international cooperation to improve, for example, alert systems, data-sharing, research and local, regional and global production and distribution of medical and public health counter-measures such as vaccines, medicines, diagnostics and personal protective equipment.
The initiative was taken to the WHO. A new intergovernmental negotiation body (INB) was set up to debate, draft and negotiate the treaty.
The zero draft was published in February 2023. In late May, the INB is set to present a progress report to the 76th World Health Assembly in Geneva. But there will be no “vote taking place”, as Frost claims – it’ll simply be a report-back.
The first draft of the treaty should be ready for distribution to WHO member states by early June. The INB will then hold a series of meetings through the rest of 2023 to negotiate and redraft the treaty.
The result of all this, though not necessarily the final treaty, will again be submitted to the World Health Assembly, in May 2024.
Experts have said negotiating the treaty to a final version ratified by all 194 WHO member states will be a long process that may take many years – if it’s passed at all.
There will not be a vote in Geneva, Switzerland in the last week of May 2023 to approve a plan “so that every nation submits to the WHO to give them the sole power to shut down your nation”.
All that will happen is a negotiating body preparing a rough draft of a voluntary treaty on international cooperation will report its progress to the World Health Assembly.
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