The unelected global health agency the World Health Organization (WHO) is currently meeting to consider a draft version of a controversial international pandemic treaty that will give the WHO increased surveillance powers.
The new surveillance powers are detailed in Article 10 (“Strengthening and sustaining capacities for pandemic prevention, preparedness, response and recovery of health systems”) and Article 17 (“One Health”) of the draft treaty. They include requirements for the WHO’s member states to “build and reinforce surveillance systems” across both the public and private sector and to strengthen the WHO’s “One Health surveillance systems.”
In its fact sheet on One Health, the WHO cites Covid-19 as one of the main drivers for expanding its One Health approach and notes that the COVID-19 pandemic “put a spotlight on the need for a global framework for improved surveillance and a more holistic, integrated system.”
While the draft treaty doesn’t mention contact tracing and testing, these were two of the main surveillance tools that were used to track the spread of Covid-19 during the pandemic and create a mass surveillance dragnet. Not only did this result in many citizens being forced to use surveillance apps and devices but the data was often abused by governments and third parties.
Not only does this treaty grant the WHO new surveillance powers but it also recognizes “the central role of WHO” and deems it to be “the directing and coordinating authority on international health work.”
We obtained a copy of the draft international pandemic treaty for you here.