A VEIL OF SECRECY
The Biden Administration has agreed with China that the working drafts of the proposed “Pandemic Treaty” should be kept secret. They do NOT want the public to know what each country has proposed.
The meetings of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) to facilitate the negotiation of the WHO CA+ (“Pandemic Treaty”) have largely been conducted in secret.
The INB met again this past week, and the vast majority of the meetings and the documents were NOT made available.
The United States has been accused of supporting a ‘Veil of Secrecy’ over the negotiations regarding the WHO CA+ (“Pandemic Treaty”).
International Non-Government Organizations (NGOs) and activists have called out the United States for siding with China to exclude the public from seeing drafts of the pandemic accord as it is being negotiated by World Health Organization (WHO) member states.
The letter arises from China and US opposition to a proposal by the European Union (EU) that “all inputs and additions to the zero draft should be available to all stakeholders”, which was made during the fourth meeting of the WHO’s Intergovernmental Negotiating Body (INB) that is thrashing out the accord.
However, China insisted that the marked-up version of the pandemic treaty zero draft should be circulated only to “drafting group participants”, and this was backed by the US.
US Ambassador Pamela Hamamoto stated: “I think at this stage, I have some concern about sharing the draft to all stakeholders given where we are in the process and so I just want to be careful about that and certainly if we are sharing it with all stakeholders [we] would support removing the attribution of member states.”
“The attempt to create a veil of secrecy now surrounding the substantive and technical text-based negotiations on the WHO pandemic treaty sets a dangerous precedent for norm-setting at the multilateral level,” the group says in a letter sent on Wednesday to the US Secretary of Health and Human Services, Xavier Becerra, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken.
Excluding the public “undermines trust in the process at a time when attacks on the WHO and on the pandemic accord are increasing”, according to the letter signatories, which include Health Action International (HAI), Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), Oxfam America, People’s Vaccine Alliance (PVA), Public Citizen and STOPAIDS.
“No one doubts the ability of industry lobbyists to obtain access to the negotiating text documents, creating an information and influence asymmetry that is inappropriate for public health norm-setting,” they added.
In contrast to the INB process, negotiations at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) are public, and observers can access the draft texts under discussion, including those with member-state attributions, the signatories pointed out.
Read the entire letter:
by James Roguski
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