Why the Centralization of Health via the WHO Should Be Resisted by Civil Society
Dr. Silvia Behrendt is the founder of the Global Health Responsibility Agency for accountability and transparency for health decisions. She was previously a consultant to the WHO on the IHR and wrote her Ph.D. about the executive authority of the WHO-DC during PHEIC.
This is an edited segment from the weekly live General Assembly meeting on May 9, 2022. This presentation is also available on Rumble and on Odysee. The full General Assembly Meeting is available in the Newsroom. A transcript of this presentation can be found below.
Here’s what WCH members, staff, and coalition partners are saying about Dr. Behrendt’s presentation:
“Very valuable insights….Thank you Sylvia” – Christof Plothe DO
“Outstanding, Dr. Behrendt. Thank you for your presentation and clear analysis” – Rima E. Laibow, MD
“It’s outrageous that individual, regional, genetic, gender and social issues are blatantly disregarded and basic medical ethics destroyed by the IHR!!!” – Dr. Stephan Becker
“Thank you Dr. Silvia Behrendt for your presentation! Amazing!” – Marco Albertazzi
Shabnam Palesa Mohamed: And let us tell you also about Dr. Silvia Behrendt. She is the founder of the Global Health Responsibility Agency, for countability and transparency for health decisions. She was previously a consultant to the WHO on the IHR and wrote her PhD about the executive authority of the WHO during a public health emergency of international concern.
The World Council for Health extends a very, very warm [00:01:00] welcome to Dr. Silvia Behrendt. Thank you very much for joining us, and we’re looking forward to hearing from you why the centralization of health by the, who should be resisted from by civil society. Thank you.
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: Thank you very much. Hi, Shabnam. Yeah. It’s such a great and long introduction to the IHR. I think I should not say anything. My goal of this short introduction, Because right now we hear a lot about the pandemic treaty there has been a lot of attention and political focus on the pandemic treaty, uh, besides which just realized uh, our IHR amendments proposed by the US, which are really explosive and which, uh, change international law, definitely. Uh, And on the other side, there are a lot of issues going on within WHO, which are very troubling and concerning, uh, because health and powers get globalized to the extent and to the individual’s freedoms uh, which get jeopardized.[00:02:00]
So we have an explosive agenda, which I would like to introduce; this is the main issue is the US proposed international health regulation amendments. And then we have, which I would like to draw your attention to the election of the director general. Um, And there’s one sole candidate, uh, again the reelection of as director we will probably there will be a certain revote and reelection of him.
So I just would like to the attention to this issue, because everything is connected between the organs and between the sole executive power of WHO, Uh, so we should also focus on, um, different organs within the WHO and this picture I would like to give you.
Besides that, that also very important issues on preparedness and response, which I will explain to you later.
texts. So, what is the entire problem behind, uh, what we realize going on with COVID and, uh, [00:03:00] would actually everybody is concerned about. I would summarize this as global health security ideology. That’s the problem, um, of WHO’s policies and of national policies of, uh, private stakeholders, uh, that get, uh, connected to WHO.
So it’s actually, the IHR and the legal tool of the global health security. They have been revised as an old sanitary law, um, to entrench this ideology of the global health security concept. So what is the global health security concept about. It has some main propositions you have to know. It’s an all hazards approach, which leads to a dual pandemic use strategy.
It means it’s biohazards, bioterrorism again are combined with a regular medical uh, freedom and and medical [00:04:00] treatments, Uh, so you never know, um, which kind of security uh, the government uh, departs on. uh, Through this, uh, all inclusive focus, integrating security issues and the regular medical focus.
And then you have a global technocratic approach, which says you are always ill-prepared unless you give all the powers, you trade everything in to one global centralized authority, which protects the global supply chains uh, all through the club. Also the entire terminology is military Uh, You speak about medical countermeasures, nonmedical countermeasures, uh, that’s all, uh, coming from the military. Uh, and you have to bear this in mind. So the most important concept of the global health security is the rule of emergency. And what does this mean? The rule of emergency is always above the law or beyond the law, because it’s never sticking to the law because it [00:05:00] says the emergency is so bad you have to stop the lawfulness? So this ideology has been implemented in all sanitary laws called international health regulations. so Just that you get this picture, how many stakeholders are all focused on one legal tool called international health regulations? It’s a very broad global health security agenda and all those private philanthropic foundations like Gates, World Economic Forum, the Munich security conference in all those academia, uh, this is All these agencies, which are all departing on the international health regulations. Um, you have the States, and you have international organizations, the UN, the WHO, all embarking on the international health regulations, which is the only legal tool implementing the global health security concept operating on an emergency basis. Um, So I will not repeat this on WHO because know, the objective of it shall be the attainment of all people of the highest possible [00:06:00] level of health, which has, I think, departed very stark from that. and WHO has very, uh, curious normative authorities, uh, vested to the World Health Assembly, which also are confusing, uh, all the time. They have a treaty pathway and the regulations pathway, but both [inaudible]. So the international health regulations, I called regulations. There are regular international treaty, irregular international law, very complicated.
uh, The most important thing, I just wanted to show this picture of WHO having, um, the organs, which, um, yeah, that’s a very important slide, which I just make up very shortly for you that you understand the relationship because nobody really understands why the IHR as a treaty, something like co-hosted by the World Health Organization. So under the right side, you have the WHO, the regular guidance, by the World Health Constitution and they [00:07:00] have organs. So they have the World Health assembly, which includes all 194 member states, then you have the executive board, which is something like the steering committee and then you have the secretariat.
Um, And the secretariat is the director general as an organ on himself. So the world health assembly has this normative authority, given by the constitution to adopt regulations, which are treaties and they have this old sanitary laws. That’s also a story of its own, um, how they got into WHO, so they date from the 18th century, mid 18th century. Uh, they got integrated to the World Health Organization as a separate treaty, and they have been revised in 2005, adopted as Shabnam introduced in the very beginning, and they are now international law for 196 states parties. So they have two non WHO member states, The and Lichtenstein. And [00:08:00] this treaty gives the director you’re on this side, on the secretarial side, the executive authority to declare a public health emergency.
So it’s not actually vested in the constitution. It’s vested in a separate treaty. And if you speak about who, um, it’s also very important to bear in mind. The secretariat their own entity of the WHO which is not legitimized by the World Health assembly because resolutions resulting from 194 members states.
Normally by consensus, are legitimized by the governments, but the sectretariat has something like a will of its own. So that’s very important to bear in mind to get the idea of this, um, very sole exceptional discretionary power director, general to declare an public health emergency of international concern.
And the aim of this public health emergency of international concern is [00:09:00] to actually to release counter measures, to release medical or nonmedical counter measures. And the idea behind that. is to have emergency use authorizations, However the international has regulations to not, um, say any secondary effect.
What happens after such a declaration except for recommending to states the real importance is on the emergency use authorization because on the same a public health emergency is declared the big pharma can start trials or can start to outsource the trials, uh, and apply for emergency use authorization.
So, um, having understood that, I think the IHR amendments get a much more rational because since about a decade, um, this poll is focused on the binary nature of the public health emergency because big pharma has a problem with having a public health emergency [00:10:00] declared and on the same day, starting their vaccine authorization.
So they need something before that to start emergency use authorizations So actually there, was a huge Um, one intermediary state, of an, of an intermediary uh, health alert, prior to the public health emergency for the pharmaceutical industry to go, uh, to the regulators, to the national regulators and start applying. uh, for their trials, uh, for emergency use authorization. issue. You have to bear in mind that the who I think this very silent on it keeps very, very silent, is an absolute unparalleled authority and then an authority, which is not given by the who constitution, uh, this is the emergency use authorization listing procedure, uh, of who, which actually uh, states without a regulatory, um, agency, the emergency use authorization.
So it can [00:11:00] be distributed all over the world, which actually, incurs a lot of legal Um, also in terms of informed consent, uh, for the trial participants, because an emergency use authorizations, nothing else uh, having a perilous structure of a trial, which is still ongoing mass exposure of the population during a pandemic, which is not to study population, but having the same investigation on medical.
product So there are a lot of legal problems involved in WHO um, in parts on this little authority uh, actually legal, uh, accessing their and, uh, yeah, it’s a huge problem. going to the IHR amendments proposed by the us there is also long story behind that. Um, which actually the IHR relatively for international law relatively new. They are from 2005. Uh, this means everybody’s hopefully still Um, and they are still [00:12:00] active. Those people who negotiated the IHR and, uh, in 2005 or prior to that, because it was adopted in 2005, it had a 10 year revision process, um, that was already the issue of who missions should go in country and assess laboratories, um, um, assess the biomedical threats because it adopted the old hazzards approach, uh, with intentional release of a biological agent.
And at that time we had the Iraq war, the Gulf War II And the US was very, very keen on getting, introduction to, to control infectious diseases because the CDC, uh, of the US is very closely cooperating with who, um, everything, was rejected by the global south, um, fortunately, and there was no permission to go with countries.
And now, because uh, political attention of the pandemic treaty, uh, it is [00:13:00] used again to try to get access to countries indoors. So to analyze and scrutinize, um, the laboratories, uh, abroad. Uh, so you have there’s a, there’s a huge political, taint um, all those new amendments healthy IHR Um, and also the health response with it’s a very uh, issue is that WHO Seems to make it a standard operating procedure that WHO missions will be, uh, deployed in country inaudible and you have to know that I’m from a middle Europe, so we don’t have a country office for who, but normally you talk, uh, at the three levels of the who you talk about the headquarters you talk about the regional offices.
There are six, regional offices, and then you have the country offices. So they have a very good structure to make a top bottom down, um, centralized approach going into country and deploying [00:14:00] very fast missions. And also the US proposal. I think everything that is written in the us things, it’s not written for them because I cannot think of the US admitting WHO missions maybe cooperating with, uh, African countries to come into the laboratories and assess health Um, I would be very astonished if they would admit or allow who will come in research and, and showing their laboratories. so this is some background on, the IHR the old um, that’s what is very real to say, what the IHR is actually about, because there’s also confusion.
So the purpose in scope is just stopped international spread of disease the unnecessary interference with international traffic and trade. So it has a trade rationale behind it. It’s not only uninfectious disease control, but it [00:15:00] has always this idea of being proportional health responses uh, which are at the um, not applied, I think, and violated.
And then the most important issue, which is the last minute inclusion [inaudible] IHR, which was I think the only issue why the IHR became adopted in the very last minute in 2005, because there was no consensus, the global south rejected it and they included article 3 and it states that IHR; shall be with full respect for the dignity of human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons shall be guided by the charter of the United Nations and the constitution of the World Health Organization and they universally applicable and very important sovereign right to legislate and to implement legislation in persuance of their health policies.
So we have sovereign retrospective, we have human dignity respected, which is an absolutely different approach than the global [00:16:00] health security concept, because the global health security concept underlies the biopolitical bio power approach, which has been innunciated by Michel Foucault back in the which has been criticized by a lot of scholars, Uh, for example, Agamben um, uh, of Italy is a very important uh, opponent, uh, critic of this biomedical So we have these principles there And like, I would like to remind you that um, everything that is said on the IHR is referred to the core capacities included uh, in annex one of uh, If WHO talks about implementing the IHR, they only talk about core competencies on surveillance and there’s a huge international health regulations monitoring and evaluations framework um, you should go through this internet site. Uh, you should look at WHO sites and see how many actors are trying to To actually go into [00:17:00] countries and change their laws, how they’re surveilled and how um, approached and how they approached the entire health diseases threat. And one very last issue because they didn’t even talk half team. and I think they should stop right Um, One very, troublesome issue um, adoption of the one health approach because the one health approach uh, taking into the surveillance, the entire environment and the animals sphere um, for surveillance. So they already it with COVID-19. They are already guidelines, how to implement it, how the surveillance, all the animals, how to surveil all the environment, all the wastewater uh, and and things like that. Uh, So we will have an all over inclusive, including climate issues uh, surveillance structure, uh, uh, where all international organizations will impart upon, which actually will be instructed at the time being on the IHR, uh, [00:18:00] maybe in a future treaty, but this future treaty is far away right now, we have the IHR which they use very heavily, as you can see here.
Question? How should we resist? Um, I think you have to very strongly articulate that the global health security ideology is not an ideology that humanity can live with. Um, We all have diseases. We don’t like diseases. We can defeat diseases, but diseases are not threats to the nations, but they affect individuals and we have to be concerned on an individual basis having medical Um, and you need the freedom to consent to medical treatment and to research. And we do not need an emergency um, operational basis because we can handle it with law and especially with human rights law.
Shabnam Palesa Mohamed: Thank you very much, Dr. Silvia Behrendt for that extraordinary presentation. I certainly think a very in-depth understanding of the architecture of the WHO is so important and you’ve [00:19:00] given us that to thank you very much. But also the agenda and the implications of the IHR, which is of course our most important focus right now, uh, both at the World Council for Health but of course our many partners and allies around the world and your organization as well. Dr. Silvia.
I’d like to hand over at this point to Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg, I think we’ve got about seven or eight questions there. Let’s take it away.
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: Good evening from Austria, Guten Arben Silvia. Thank you for the great presentation, danke schoen. So we have as a Shabnam just said a lot of interesting questions in our chat and I’m going to start.
Um, So the first question, what is the proposed urgent action to address the 75th WHA agenda item of the proposed amendments to IHR?
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: It’s We have to go to the government
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: um,
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: because they focus on this all of government approach
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: Uh,
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: and we have to make them aware that this is a problem. The actual problem is that there is a [00:20:00] very strong
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: um,
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: They will be adopted because they have 20 co-sponsors, including the European Union, actually it’s the global north. Uh, we very much rely on the global south that they think that they are awake and they read it very carefully because the political attention is so much focused on pandemic treaty um, whereas the actually working and the [inaudible] IHR on a constitutional basis for the pandemic preparedness and response issue and urgent action would um, to go politician, politicians, and they have to uh, give an answer why
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: Thank you so much. So the next question is from my steering committee member, Christof Plothe; are the member states aware of the executive powers of the sercretariat or are they left in the belief that it is the WHA, which takes decisions in states of public emergency international concern?
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: [00:21:00] Usually, The World Health Organization was very cautious in being active because the the actual drivers of WHO were the member states. But I think within the last years, this has uh, there is self-consciousness, it’s a criteria uh, because which I did not say anything because it’s another hour is they both have emergencies uh, which is very troubling to Um, It has been integrated in 2016 and it made one um, very problematic: WHO used to be a technical organization, giving advice um, health ministries, but then they changed it and made it an operational agency going to the field since 2016. And that’s actually what has been amended now to the IHR, uh, with all those deployment missions, because they have it in the world emergency program as an emergency program.
They [00:22:00] have it, and it’s a huge part at the headquarter level. Uh, It’s a huge branch within uh, executive not uh, Brian was, uh, I think was his name, was very at press conferences for WHO, so we see a shifting change and that’s also the problem if yeah. get too
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: Thank you. So the next question from our dear colleague, Dr. Stephan Becker, um, I think he’s talking about the emergency use authorization. Um, His question is; this setup seems to be a huge advantage for big pharma by bypassing all security measures installed over the last 40 years. Is there any legal chance of an individual country to oppose those
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: Well, the problem the government’s,
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: uh,
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: joinined the WHO that’s actually the real because emergency use authorisations are, I think very, very troubling because WHO has not the capacity to assess,
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: um,
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: and to amend n a frequent[00:23:00]
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: um,
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: all those emergency
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: uh,
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: listings. Governments can resist it, but in fact they can’t because there has been think no government having resisted. Um, If you look for example at, uh, there’s a website for Comirnaty Nazi, it’s called Comirnaty Global, lists, it has a list you can scroll down and you emerge, which nationalities, which states have given their emergency use authorizations and then there is a list which says WHO or something like emergency use listing procedure. So, you know, these countries rely on WHO and the most important issue, if you read this bit more than 10 pages, they have a disclaimer on it and I think more than one page saying that WHO is not responsible for any death WHO is not giving any grants or any rights to a big pharma. So everything is not right in the disclaimer, it’s wrong, Uh, because of uh, they recommended [00:24:00] it and Comirnaty and Pfizer, and they used it like that also GAVI, because GAVI’s the distributing agency of the COVAX facility.
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: Thank you. That was a really good answer. And Stephan Becker also says thank you. So the next question, what are Europe as a member state doing, what about Austria?
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: Well, Austria this is a very important issue. Austria is actually a hidden driver of this agenda because they propose at the executive board at the 150th executive board in January, they proposed uh, integrate, uh, within the executive board their own committee called emergency, I think emergency committee or council and it said in an article other member states to raise their eyebrows about it. uh, it was very shocking and uh, what Austria’s proposal was, it got stalled in the last minute, and it will be again be re-negotiated. So I think there wasn’t consensus behind it from Europe. Um, [00:25:00] Austria is I think very Um, we also have a um, WHO director.
I think they….
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: I’m not proud to be Austrian when we talk about this, I have to say. Okay. And then the next question from our same member is what do you know about action by other member states?
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: Unfortunately, nothing. The problem is the health ministries that are all in agreement and we have to actually, we, uh, the real people have to connect through our channels um, that’s also so important why the World Health Council uh, has been activated. Uh, Why also other initiatives are activated, uh, because I think it’s an international problem, it’s a global problem and it cannot be solved by one country and not solve uh, one council. We have all to work um, and we have to we have to be heard uh, which is only possible if we stay connected and stay because we are the majority and the governmental um, it’s [00:26:00] still, I think the main problem of, of WHO and all international organizations Uh, we do not get reasonable um, legal access uh, to get transparent decisions. Uh, We cannot hold them liable for anything. Uh, As soon as they will be liable, they will stop doing uh, all those Um, that’s certain, especially if they’re personally liable. Yeah. And I think we have to integrate this approach.
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: Thank you. Okay. So the next uh, what about liability of WHO in case of fraudulent measures in a swine flu Um, They were just criticized by EU investigators, but not
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: true. I mean, immunity [inaudible] if it’s fraudulent, but as of now, there was no case and nobody ever got charged in front of the Uh, Corruption is certainly on the what, What would be one legal way um, hold them accountable is the issue that, [00:27:00] [inaudible] has a lot uh, partnerships partnerships. It has, I think, more than 200 and it um, tries to increase partnerships and as soon as they make a partnership, it’s outside international law, it’s domestic law, for example, TP is Norwegian all, a lot of partnerships, a lot of them are Swiss law. Um, So this would be maybe one legal, but more or less, a complicated way, but as soon, or as long as we do not have an WHO um, making a bribery um, with the big pharma and we have enough evidence. Yeah.
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: Um, So another interesting question. How can any WHO uh, or be considered in the interest of public health, when there is an obvious conflict of interest, since they accept direct contributions and in-kind and service contributions from most of the vaccine manufacturers.
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: Yeah. Um, I think that’s where we have to shout out because [00:28:00] most of the global population does not know that not dare to think that what is And we can look at the list of contributors, including big pharma. Um, I um, WHO is in a very dangerous vicious cycle of pandemic creation, doing uh, they have it priority disease X-list defined. After this disease X list, they are searching and surveilling for these diseases. Then they uh, this public health emergency uh, which is the executive authority of the director general again, after having declared a public health emergency, they can declare emergency use authorized listings.
Yeah. the the pandemic is perfect. And then they can recommend all the measures. um, if there are no safeguards, Uh, we have to shout out loud against this conflicts and we have to make it transparent because I think nobody else will, there will be no international organization saying I would like to show that we have a lot of conflict of interests and we have to um, [00:29:00] um, add to NGOs, like there’s this multi-stakeholder, and was something like that.
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: Thank you. So another uh, uh, a um, of the World Council for Health; did I understand properly, the secretariat can issue an emergency use authorization to enable big pharma to start a vaccine trials?
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: Yes, it’s actually the secretariat um, there’s no resolution behind emergency use listing precedure and normally the WHO works uh, expert um, they are selected, they are put on a list, they asked and they say yes, and then in the end it’s the experts recommending, or WHO recommending through the experts, it’s, uh, the secretariat’s activity.
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: Thank you. Okay. So another interesting question of the 194 member states, 20 of whom sponsored the American proposed IHR amendments, how many are proposing action? [00:30:00]
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: I think nobody.
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: I
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: I just know for a European Union that was only Bulgaria resisting or saying something negative about the treaty negotiations who only Bulgarian for European Union.
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: Another The promulgation of the 2005 ratified IHR, likewise are compromised since most of the committee members, which includes the disgraced professor, Neil Ferguson, Maria [inaudible], et cetera, all of whom admitted to taking money from big pharma.
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: And WHO is doing nothing about it.
They say, that’s the problem. They have an accountability but they govern their own accountability and you actually have no access because they claim to do their own a conflict of interest declarations. And they don’t see any conflicts of interests. Sometimes they changing some experts, but it’s
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: Okay. [00:31:00] And another question from my dear steering committee colleague Mark Trozzi; would you support this stance regarding the WHO: Exit, defund, arrest, prosecute.
Dr. Silvia Behrendt: That’s Depends which scenario you are At the moment you should really cut it uh, cold WHO calls itself an investment case. Um, It is within, uh, just admits the transformation agenda, um, and this transformation agenda that is actually not in line with international law and the law of international organizations, which was very strict. Um, But I think this has gone and this is history. Um, they have indeed, um, very clear devotion to partnerships and partnerships are always money.
And also what is very concerning is that because the IHR has actually two parts, [00:32:00] they also can be read in a more or um, relatively a moderate way. And also, I mean, I always thought when I researched about the IHR, you know, there’s some truth behind it. I mean, why not? There’s nothing wrong about surveilling diseases.
But of course you can get, and that’s also always with an ideology you can get into excess Um, and um, just turn everything around with um, the actually real costs, which would be of concern. Yeah.
um, Would you please tell us a little bit more about Bulgaria?
I can find you the statement of Bulgaria and you can maybe and the website um, because I read it EU documents, uh, the oral statement the council because the council uh, actually introducing their mandate for negotiations Or the European Union has no competency in health matters, it’s still a sovereign right. Um, But [00:33:00] nobody, the European Union states, they don’t seem know, be worried about that issue and Bulgaria made a rejection argument uh, in saying they still have the sovereign Uh, to something more or less negotiate on themselves. But yeah. I can give you the link.
Dr. Maria Hubmer-Mogg: Thank you so much. um, just one comment and then give over to Shabnam. yeah, We have this comment of; there must be one independent court somewhere on this planet. So we are looking for that. And, um, thank you so much Silvia from my side, danke schoen and now I, um, come back to you Shabnam.
Shabnam Palesa Mohamed: Danke schoen Silvia and Maria for that really robust Q and A, I think we’ve all learnt a lot, so partners and the public, if you’ve got questions or ideas, please feel free to share them either in the zoom chat, if you are a partner. And of course in the World Council for health.org newsroom if you are a member [00:34:00] of the public, we’d love to hear from you.
I’d like to share an important and a meaningful quote at this time; ‘The fear is a reaction, but courage is a decision.’ And certainly, it’s going to take courage from all of us to restore our health, our freedom and our sovereignty. Part of that of course, is political pressure and we’ve seen a parliamentarian in Ireland stand up and say her piece about the new pandemic treaty as well as the parliamentarian in South Africa. But now we need to raise awareness about the IHR and of course, mobilize civil society to act. Thank you very much again