Washington, July 8: The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations of its decision to withdraw the US from the World Health Organization, breaking off ties with the global health body amidst the raging coronavirus pandemic.
President Donald Trump said he was halting funding to the organisation in mid-April and announced his intention to withdraw from the WHO in May after he said it “failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms.”
The US has also accused the WHO of siding with China on the outbreak of the virus, which originated in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year, alleging the health body misled the world resulting in deaths of over half a million people globally, including over 130,000 in America alone.
“China has total control over the World Health Organization,” President Trump said in May. He has also alleged that the Chinese government tried to cover-up of the coronavirus pandemic’s origins.
In April, the US stopped funding to WHO as the Trump administration reviewed the ties. A month later, President Donald Trump announced the US was terminating the relationship.
The US is the single largest contributor to the WHO, providing over USD 450 million per annum. China’s contribution to the global health body is about USD 40 million, one-tenth of that of the US.
“I can say that on 6 July 2020, the United States of America notified the secretary-general, in his capacity as depositary of the 1946 Constitution of the World Health Organization, of its withdrawal from the World Health Organization, effective on 6 July 2021, said Stephane Dujarric, spokesman for the UN secretary-general, in a statement.
Dujarric said the secretary-general is in the process of verifying with the WHO whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met.
Senator Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee tweeted that Congress has received notification that President Trump has officially withdrew the US from the WHO.
The US has been a party to the WHO Constitution since June 21, 1948. Its participation was accepted by the World Health Assembly with certain conditions set out by the US for its eventual withdrawal from this world body.
The said conditions include giving a one-year notice, meaning the withdrawal won’t go into effect until July 6 next year, raising the possibility the Trump administration’s decision could be reversed by a new government after the presidential elections in November this year.
Joe Biden, who will challenge Trump in the November 3 presidential election, tweeted: “On my first day as President, I will rejoin the WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage.”
Democratic House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called the move to withdraw from the WHO as “an act of true senselessness.”
The Trump administration’s decision was criticised by several Congressmen, who said it “would be a bad policy.”
To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic and incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests it leaves Americans sick and America alone, tweeted Senator Menendez.
Congressman Eliot Engel, Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs, said, It would be bad policy to pull out of the world’s leading body coordinating global health efforts under any circumstances, but to do so during a global pandemic is utterly baffling, especially against the backdrop of 130,000 American lives lost.
Remaining in the WHO and exerting American leadership would boost international efforts to develop a vaccine and strengthen other countries’ health systems to better address future outbreaks, he said.
Deflecting blame onto the WHO won’t reverse the administration’s mistakes or undo the suffering our country has endured. The president needs to get serious about stopping this pandemic’s lethal spread by restoring our membership in the WHO, ramping up testing, and encouraging everyone to practice social distancing and wear masks, Engel said.
To withdraw the US from the WHO at the height of a global pandemic is self-defeating and dangerous, said House Majority Leader, Steny Hoyer.
Not only will this withdrawal hurt global efforts to develop and deploy critical vaccines, but it will also remove our ability to have a say in the operations and future of that organisation, yielding much influence to China, he said.
Indian-American Congressman Ami Bera said America lost its best chance to defeat the virus once the president began to minimise the pandemic and shift blame onto others, instead of assuming responsibility and actually leading the country through this crisis.
Today’s decision comes as no surprise, he said.
No response has been perfect, including the WHO’s. But the WHO is playing a critical role by coordinating the global response and providing important guidance and information about the virus. It is this information and guidance that has helped countries in Europe and Asia tackle and contain the virus. They bent the curve. Our cases are increasing…,” he said.
Senator Jeff Merkley, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations subcommittee that oversees multilateral institutions, said Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo are delivering a huge win for China and a huge blow to the American people.
By pulling out of the WHO, President Trump is strengthening Chinese leadership and power, both within the WHO and more broadly within the international community. This is a huge mistake that damages American interests, Merkley said. (PTI)