US powerful to dictate terms, powerless to address real issues

General view during a press conference of the World Health Organization (WHO) organised by the Geneva Association of United Nations Correspondents (ACANU) amid the COVID-19 outbreak, caused by the novel coronavirus, at the WHO headquarters in Geneva Switzerland July 3, 2020. [Photo/Agencies]

CHINA DAILY EDITORIAL | Updated: 2020-08-11 20:49

Although the road map for the World Health Organization’s reform the United States reportedly submitted to the G7 for approval remains unknown, France and Germany quitting the discussion late last week in frustration due to US attempts to dictate terms speaks volumes of how “rude” the proposal is, as a European official engaged in the talks put it.

“Nobody wants to be dragged into a reform process and getting an outline for it from a country which itself just left the WHO”, another European official said reportedly.

The consensus in the G7, barring the US of course, is that reform should make the WHO more powerful and put in place safeguards to ensure it doesn’t fall victim to power politics. France and Germany have openly said so. And the fact that France and Germany, despite having the best interests of the global health body in mind, walked out of the G7 talks shows how desperately the White House wants to dominate not only the reform agenda but also the WHO itself.

The US has never believed in the independence of international organizations or the sanctity of multilateral treaties, unless they serve its geopolitical or economic agenda. It has never believed in partnership either, used as it is to forcing even allies to dance to its tune. And as is its wont, it has tried to turn international bodies such as the WHO into its puppets.

No wonder none of the other six members of the G7 has spoken well of the US’ reform road map. In fact, a spokesman for the Italian Health Ministry said that although the talks are still underway, Italy’s position is in line with that of France and Germany.

That Washington has withdrawn from the WHO amidst a pandemic and at a time when it accounts for the highest numbers of infections, 5.2 million as of Tuesday, and deaths, over 166,000, in the world is reflective of the White House’s arrogance, if not hubris. Yet the US administration has the audacity to claim it has done a much better job of containing the outbreak than other governments.

The G7’s scarcely reported talks on WHO reform — in which the US has always been an ardent participant so it could control the agenda — started more than four months ago, according to reports quoting anonymous sources. And were it not for France and Germany abandoning the talks, they would not have received any public attention.

The US president sent his ultimatum to WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus while the G7 talks were on, and pulled the US out of the organization about two months later — though the country can formally withdraw only a year after serving the notice. Which means, despite its apathy toward the WHO, and despite withdrawing from the organization, the current US administration continues making attempts to grab the reins of the United Nations’ health body, revealing its true character.

The White House is powerful enough to dictate terms to other countries, but powerless to address its domestic woes caused by the pandemic.


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