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‘Shocking cover-up’: DOJ lawyers committed fraud in vaccine injury case, CHD attorney alleges in motion


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From LifeSiteNews

By Brenda Baletti, Ph.D., The Defender

“The evidence submitted in support of the motion clearly shows that attorneys from the Department of Justice concealed and misrepresented highly relevant information from the special masters in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the judges in the courts”

Rolf Hazlehurst, a Children’s Health Defense (CHD) staff attorney and father of a son with autism, filed a motion in federal court on April 2 alleging lawyers representing the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) fraudulently concealed evidence that vaccines can cause autism.

In a motion filed in the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, Hazlehurst alleged that U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) lawyers who represented HHS in vaccine injury cases repeatedly defrauded the judicial system – from the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (NVICP) to the U.S. Supreme Court.

That fraud led to thousands of families of vaccine-injured children being denied the right to compensation and the right to have their cases heard, according to the motion.

“This motion makes very serious and well-substantiated allegations of a massive scheme of fraud on the courts,” said Kim Mack Rosenberg, CHD general counsel who also is of counsel to Hazlehurst in the federal case.

“The evidence submitted in support of the motion clearly shows that attorneys from the Department of Justice concealed and misrepresented highly relevant information from the special masters in the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program and the judges in the courts,” Mack Rosenberg told The Defender.

Hazlehurst’s son Yates regressed into autism after being vaccinated as an infant. In the early 2000s, his family and thousands of others filed cases seeking compensation for vaccine-induced autism through the NVICP.

Unbeknownst at the time to the petitioners and the NVICP special masters, the DOJ’s star expert medical witness, Dr. Andrew Zimmerman informed DOJ attorneys during the ongoing omnibus proceedings that he had reversed his original opinion and determined that vaccines can and do cause autism in some cases.

In what Hazlehurst alleges was “a shocking cover-up,” instead of allowing Zimmerman to share his revised opinion, the DOJ attorneys relieved Zimmerman of his duties as a witness.

However, they continued to use excerpts from his unamended written opinion to make their case that vaccines did not cause autism – misrepresenting his position and committing “fraud on the court.”

According to the motion, the DOJ’s first act of fraud snowballed into a scheme of deception with far-reaching implications in which DOJ attorneys repeatedly misrepresented Zimmerman’s opinion and concealed other evidence that emerged during the test case hearings in the OAP in subsequent cases before multiple courts.

“As a result, thousands of cases in the Omnibus Autism Proceeding were denied compensation and the impact beyond the OAP is enormous,” Mack Rosenberg said. “This fraud affected the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program – especially the Omnibus Autism Proceeding – the Court of Federal Claims, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and even the U.S. Supreme Court.”

Hazlehurst said he is “asking the court to give this motion the serious attention it deserves.” He added, “At a minimum, the court should allow discovery and hold a hearing on this motion.”

Overturning a ruling due to fraud on the court is an extraordinary remedy reserved for extraordinary cases but according to Hazlehurst, “This motion we filed shows that this indeed is an extraordinary case.”

The DOJ has until April 30 to respond to the motion.

CHD CEO Mary Holland told The Defender, “Vaccines most definitely do cause autism, and the government has been lying about this reality for decades.”

Holland added:

With others, I published a law review article in 2011 showing that the government absolutely knew that vaccines cause autism – and yet they have covered it up and lied about it since the inception of the Vaccine Injury Compensation Program.

How many hundreds of thousands of children and families would have been spared the heartaches and crushing financial burdens of autism had the government come clean?

‘Exceptionally difficult’ to obtain compensation through NVICP

In the late 1980s, a substantial number of lawsuits for vaccine injuries related to Wyeth’s (now Pfizer) DPT vaccine, combined with “grossly insufficient compensation” for victims of vaccine injury, threatened the vaccine program’s viability.

In response, Congress passed the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986, which established the “vaccine court.” The law gave the pharmaceutical industry broad protection from liability and proposed to compensate vaccine-injured children through the new NVICP.

The NVICP originally was designed to be a “swift, flexible, and less adversarial alternative to the often costly and lengthy civil arena of traditional tort litigation.”

To receive compensation, parents file a claim with the program.

The Court of Federal Claims (which oversees the program) appoints “special masters” – typically lawyers who previously represented the U.S. government – to manage and decide the individual claims. Attorneys may represent the petitioners, and the DOJ represents HHS.

NVICP proceedings are more informal than a typical courtroom. Unlike regular court proceedings, petitioners in the “vaccine court” have no right to discovery.

If a petitioner files a claim for a vaccine covered under the program and listed on the Vaccine Injury Table – the list of known vaccine side effects associated with certain vaccines within set time frames – it is presumed that a vaccine caused the petitioner’s injury and the petitioner is eligible for compensation without proof of causation.

However, if a petitioner experiences an “off-table injury” – an injury not listed on the table or that didn’t happen in the recognized injury time frame – the petitioner must prove by “a preponderance of evidence” that the vaccine caused the injury. Evidence includes medical records and expert witness testimony.

Claims must be filed within three years of the first symptom or two years of death.

Petitioners must provide a medical theory of the cause, a sequence of cause and effect, and show a temporal relationship between vaccine and injury.

However, the NVICP does not specify the required volume and type of evidence, so meeting the “preponderance of evidence” standard is largely at the discretion of the special master.

Petitioners can appeal NVICP cases to the Court of Federal Claims, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and ultimately to the U.S. Supreme Court.

It is “exceptionally difficult” to obtain compensation within the NVICP, Hazlehurst told The Defender. The proceedings are often turned into drawn-out, contentious expert battles and the backlog of cases is substantial.

The Vaccine Act of 1986 is unjust for petitioners, Hazlehurst alleges. And that injustice reached its zenith with the OAP, when the DOJ perpetrated fraud right under the noses of the special masters, signaling the beginning of the fraud on the courts that continues to this day.

Hazlehurst told The Defender he hopes his motion will shed light on the damage inflicted by this law and that it will ultimately help end the autism epidemic.

“The Vaccine Act of 1986 is one of the fundamental causes of the autism epidemic,” Hazlehurst said. “Understanding why this is true, and how the United States Department of Justice perpetrated fraud upon the courts, including the Supreme Court of the United States, is the key to ending the autism epidemic.”

A short history of the autism omnibus proceedings

By 2002, to address a “massive influx” of petitions alleging vaccine-induced autism, the Office of Special Masters combined over 5,000 claims into the OAP to determine whether vaccines cause autism and if so, under what conditions.

Initially, the NVICP planned to investigate causation issues and apply those general findings to individual cases. However, the program changed its strategy and instead selected six “test cases” by which it would examine the evidence for injuries caused by the measles mumps rubella (MMR) vaccine, thimerosal-containing vaccines (TCV), or a combination of both.

Then it would apply the findings of the test cases to other similar cases.

In doing so, Hazlehurst alleges, the court conflated general causation evidence with specific causation evidence from a few cases, without allowing for rules of discovery or evidence that would apply in an actual court.

This, Hazlehurst said, “was a recipe for disaster” as each test case was then used to determine the outcome for the remaining 5,000 cases.

Three cases – Cedillo v. HHSHazlehurst v. HHS, and Poling v. HHS – are at the center of the alleged fraud by the DOJ.

Fraud #1: the Zimmerman testimony

Hearings for the first OAP test case, Cedillo v. HHS, began in 2007. Zimmerman had worked with the DOJ to prepare an expert report on behalf of HHS finding that Michelle Cedillo’s autism had likely not been caused by the MMR vaccine.

Zimmerman later wrote in a 2018 affidavit that he attended the Cedillo hearing and listened to the testimony of Dr. Marcel Kinsbourne, another world-renowned expert in pediatric neurology.

On that basis, Zimmerman stated, he decided to clarify his written expert opinion about Michelle Cedillo, concerned it would be taken out of context.

Zimmerman spoke with DOJ attorneys to clarify that his expert opinion in the Cedillo case “was not intended to be a blanket statement as to all children and all medical science,” according to the 2018 affidavit.

He specified that advances in science, medicine and his own clinical research had led him to believe there were exceptions in which vaccinations could cause autism.

He also referred the attorneys to a paper he published with colleagues in 2006, the Poling paper, describing the case of an unidentified child who suffered regressive autism following vaccine adverse reactions. The paper suggested a possible association between mitochondrial dysfunction, vaccinations and regressive autism.

After communicating this evidence to DOJ attorneys, the DOJ dismissed Zimmerman as a witness but continued to use his written opinion as general causation evidence.

The DOJ was also allowed to use that report, submitted in one test case, as general causation evidence in other test cases.

None of the petitioners in the test cases could cross-examine Zimmerman, because he was no longer a witness. This was only possible because the federal rules of evidence do not apply in NVICP proceedings.

Yates’ case, Hazlehurst v. HHS, was the second test case in the OAP. His treating neurologist, Dr. Jean-Ronel Corbier testified Yates’ autism was likely caused by a genetic predisposition combined with an environmental insult in the form of vaccinations administered when Yates was ill. (Yates was a patient of Zimmerman in 2002.)

Corbier’s theory of causation in Yates was similar to the theory developed by Zimmerman in the Poling paper and shared with DOJ attorneys.

Yet, despite knowing Zimmerman had concluded that in a subset of children like Yates, vaccines can cause autism, the DOJ “intentionally and fraudulently” misrepresented Zimmerman’s expert testimony in its closing statements in Yates’ case, Hazlehurst alleges.

DOJ attorneys selectively quoted Zimmerman’s expert report from the Cedillo case, telling the court that Zimmerman found there was “no sound evidence to support a causative relationship with exposure to both or either MMR and/or mercury,” when Zimmerman had explicitly told the DOJ that his opinion was the opposite, according to the affidavit.

Fraud #2: the Hannah Poling case

Three weeks after closing arguments in Yates’ case, the DOJ quietly conceded Hannah Poling’s case, which was on the verge of becoming the fourth test case.

Hannah regressed into autism over several months after being vaccinated against nine diseases at one doctor’s visit.

In 2003, Poling’s father, Jon, a physician and trained neurologist, and mother, Terry, an attorney and nurse, filed an autism petition against HHS under the NVICP for their daughter’s injuries.

Jon Poling was a co-author of the 2006 paper with Zimmerman that analyzed an unnamed child, later revealed as Hannah Poling, who had a mitochondrial disorder – a condition with which Yates was later diagnosed.

In 2007, just three weeks after the lead DOJ attorney misrepresented Zimmerman’s opinion during the hearing in Hazlehurst, the same DOJ attorney submitted a report to the special masters conceding that in the case of Poling v. HHS, Hannah’s “regressive encephalopathy with features of autism spectrum disorder” (i.e., regressive autism) was caused by a vaccine injury, based upon a preponderance of the evidence standard.

This was the same neurological diagnosis Zimmerman had made for Yates in 2002.

According to court documents, if HHS had not conceded Poling, Poling v. HHS would have been designated as a test case. However, because the DOJ conceded the case, it was taken out of the omnibus and the DOJ had the case records sealed – although they were later leaked to the press and published in the Huffington Post in 2008.

In March 2008, Hannah’s parents moved to make the proceedings transparent and available to the public, but the DOJ opposed the motion and the NVICP deferred a ruling on the motion for 60 days.

During those 60 days, the DOJ filed amendments to its report conceding the Poling case. It retroactively changed the basis for compensation to say that Hannah had a “table injury.”

This meant that instead of conceding that the petitioners had proven with a preponderance of evidence that the vaccines caused her autism, they said she had a presumptive injury on the vaccine table, in which causation is presumed.

By conceding the Poling case, opposing the parents’ motion for complete transparency and changing the basis for compensation, the DOJ was able to conceal fraud and critical material evidence of how vaccines cause autism, according to Hazlehurst.

Fraud #3: appellate courts and the U.S. Supreme Court

On Feb. 12, 2009, the special masters denied compensation in the first three cases. They found the petitioners failed to establish causation between MMR or TCV vaccines and autism.

In Hazlehurst’s case, the NVICP explicitly relied on the portion of Zimmerman’s expert report that DOJ attorneys misrepresented.

The Hazlehursts appealed to the Court of Federal Claims and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, both of which upheld the special master’s decision – by relying on Zimmerman’s misrepresented opinion and knowingly fraudulent statements made by a DOJ attorney, according to Hazlehurst.

Those prior decisions directly influenced the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the Bruesewitz v. Wyeth.

In that case, Wyeth, now Pfizer, argued that a decision favoring the Bruesewitz family – who was attempting to sue the company for their daughter’s vaccine injury – would lead to a “flood of frivolous lawsuits,” including by the families from the omnibus.

Amicus briefs from the American Academy of Pediatrics, GlaxoSmithKline, Merck and Sanofi Pasteur on behalf of Wyeth relied on Hazlehurst v. HHS and other OAP decisions that were based on the misrepresentation of Zimmerman’s testimony that there was “no scientific basis” that vaccines cause autism.

The Supreme Court ruled that the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act, and the NVICP it created, preempt all design-defect claims against vaccine manufacturers by individuals seeking compensation for injury or death.

In oral arguments and in their written opinions, the justices explicitly cited the portions of the amicus briefs citing Hazlehurst v. HHS and other OAP rulings that relied on the DOJ misrepresentations in their rulings.

Since that ruling, the special masters have continued to rely on the DOJ’s fraudulent claims to deny compensation to families filing complaints in the NVICP.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr., CHD chairman on leave, and Hazlehurst in September 2018 filed a complaint with the DOJ Office of Inspector General outlining what they then knew about the DOJ’s fraud during the OAP.

The DOJ Office of Professional Misconduct investigated and responded in a June 2019 letter that it found no wrongdoing.

In that letter, however, the Office of Professional Responsibility conceded the DOJ had in fact kept Zimmerman’s testimony while dismissing him as a witness in order to avoid creating the appearance that he had changed his opinion and to prevent the petitioners from cross-examining him, according to Hazlehurst.

The ‘fraud on the court’ doctrine 

It has taken 17 years, Hazlehurst said, since the DOJ’s first alleged act of fraud upon the court, for him to gather all of the admissible evidence necessary to “connect the dots and reveal the DOJ’s web of deceit” to make this claim under the “fraud on the court” doctrine.

Under this doctrine, codified as Rule 60(d)(3) in the rules of the Court of Federal Claims, there is no time limit for the court to overturn a judgment made on the basis of fraud on the court.

The petitioner must demonstrate that there was fraud, intent to defraud and that the fraud affected more than one instance of litigation – putting the integrity of the judicial process at stake.

Hazlehurst alleges DOJ attorneys committed fraud by knowingly making false statements and offering evidence they knew to be false and that they did not take remedial action to disclose information they knew to be false and misleading to the court.

The special masters themselves have an obligation to consider all relevant evidence, but didn’t, in this case, Hazlehurst said. Instead, they ignored the contradictions in Zimmerman’s opinions and ignored the Poling evidence.

This is particularly problematic for NVICP cases, where petitioners can’t conduct meaningful discovery or cross-examination and the special masters’ oversight is the only meaningful safeguard to prevent the DOJ’s abuse of power, according to Hazlehurst.

“There is nothing fair about a government proceeding where the government controls the admissibility of evidence,” he said.

Hazlehurst said that by forcing people injured by vaccines into an administrative program, petitioners are deprived of the basic constitutional rights to due process and equal protection under the law. “It should be declared unconstitutional,” he said.

This article was originally published by The Defender — Children’s Health Defense’s News & Views Website under Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0. Please consider subscribing to The Defender or donating to Children’s Health Defense.

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Liberals shut down motion to disclose pharma payments for Trudeau’s ‘safe supply’ drug program

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Liberal MP Majid Jowhari

From LifeSiteNews

By  Clare Marie Merkowsky

Liberal Members of Parliament (MPs) resisted a motion to disclose payments made to pharmaceutical companies for “safe supply” opioids.

During a May 15 session in the House of Commons, Liberal MPs blocked a vote on a motion by Conservative MP Garnett Genuis to publish the contacts between Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government and pharmaceutical companies for “safe supply” opioids.

“Allow the public to see the contracts,” Genuis told the Commons government operations committee, questioning, “What do you have to be afraid of?”

“There are contracts involving this government and big pharmaceutical companies involved in producing and selling dangerous hard drugs which then end up on our streets,” he argued.

“Big pharmaceutical companies are involved in supplying hard drugs that are used as part of the government’s so-called ‘safe supply’ program,” Genuis continued. “These programs are a failure. We oppose them. In any event, we believe the public has a right to see the contracts.”

However, a committee vote on his motion was quickly blocked by Liberal MPs.

“I don’t think this is a motion we should move forward with,” Liberal MP Majid Jowhari said.

“I think we should go back and look at it and say our objective is to get an understanding of the source of safe supply and how it is being procured, which is different than going and saying, ‘Give us all the contracts,’” he continued.

Similarly, Liberal MP Irek Kusmierczyk claimed the request was a political tactic, saying, “They are against safe supply and safe consumption sites. That is clearly spelled out by my Conservative colleagues.”

“Organized crime groups are trafficking not only illicit substances but any prescription drugs they can get their hands on,” Deputy Commissioner Dwayne McDonald, commander of the RCMP in British Columbia, testified.

Genuis put forward a motion asking that the committee “order the production of all contracts, agreements or memoranda of understanding to which the Government of Canada is a party signed since January 1, 2016” concerning the purchase of opioids.

Liberals’ refusal to release the contracts comes as the Trudeau government recently rejected a proposal from the Alberta government to add a “unique chemical identifier” to drugs offered to users under “safe-supply” programs so that authorities could track its street sales.

Indeed, the Trudeau government seems determined to pretend their “safe-supply” programs are a success despite the rising deaths and crime in cities that have adopted their policy.

However, the program proved such a disaster in British Columbia that the province recently requested Trudeau recriminalize drugs in public spaces. Nearly two weeks later, the Trudeau government announced it would “immediately” end the province’s drug program.

Beginning in early 2023, Trudeau’s federal policy, in effect, decriminalized hard drugs on a trial-run basis in British Columbia.

Under the policy, the federal government began allowing people within the province to possess up to 2.5 grams of hard drugs without criminal penalty, but selling drugs remained a crime.

Since being implemented, the province’s drug policy has been widely criticized, especially after it was found that the province broke three different drug-related overdose records in the first month the new law was in effect.

The effects of decriminalizing hard drugs in various parts of Canada has been exposed in Aaron Gunn’s recent documentary, Canada is Dying, and in U.K. Telegraph journalist Steven Edginton’s mini-documentary, Canada’s Woke Nightmare: A Warning to the West.

Gunn says he documents the “general societal chaos and explosion of drug use in every major Canadian city.”

“Overdose deaths are up 1,000 percent in the last 10 years,” he said in his film, adding that “(e)very day in Vancouver four people are randomly attacked.”

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Brownstone Institute

WHO Accords Warrant Sovereignty Concern

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From the Brownstone Institute


In agreeing to undertake to implement the WHO advisories, states will be creating a new system of pandemic management under the WHO authority and binding under international law. It will create an open-ended international law obligation to cooperate with the WHO and to fund it.

On 11 March, my article criticizing what appeared to be a slow-motion coup d’état by the World Health Organization (WHO) to seize health powers from states in the name of preparing for, conducting early warning surveillance of, and responding to “public health emergencies of international [and regional] concern” was published in the Australian. The coup was in the form of a new pandemic treaty and an extensive package of more than 300 amendments to the existing International Health Regulations (IHR) that was signed in 2005 and came into force in 2007, together referred to as the WHO pandemic accords.

The two sets of changes to the architecture of global health governance, I argued, will effectively change the WHO from a technical advisory organisation offering recommendations into a supranational public health authority telling governments what to do.

On 3 May, the Australian published a reply by Dr. Ashley Bloomfield, co-chair of the WHO working group on the IHR amendments. Bloomfield was New Zealand’s Director-General of Health from 2018–22 and received a knighthood for his services in the 2024 New Year’s Honours list. His engagement with the public debate is very welcome.

Rejecting the charge that the WHO is engaged in a power grab over states, Bloomfield wrote that as a one-time senior UN official, I “would know that no single member state is going to concede sovereignty, let alone the entire 194 members.”

I bow to the good doctor’s superior medical knowledge in comparison to my non-existent medical qualifications.

Unfortunately, I cannot say the same with respect to reforms across the UN system, or sovereignty, or the relationship between “We the peoples” (the first three words of the UN Charter), on the one hand, and UN entities as agents in the service of the peoples, on the other. On medical and not health policy issues, I would quickly find myself out of my depth. I respectfully submit that on sovereignty concerns, Dr. Ashley may be the one out of his depth.

On the first point, I was seconded to the UN Secretariat as the senior adviser to Kofi Annan on UN reforms and wrote his second reform report that covered the entire UN system: Strengthening the United Nations: An Agenda for Further Change (2002). The topic of UN reforms, both the case for it and the institutional and political obstacles frustrating the achievement of the most critical reforms, forms a core chapter of my book The United Nations, Peace and Security  (Cambridge University Press, 2006, with a substantially revised second edition published in 2017).

I was also involved in a small Canada-based group that advocated successfully for the elevation of the G20 finance ministers’ group into a leaders’ level group that could serve as an informal grouping for brokering agreements on global challenges, including pandemics, nuclear threats, terrorism, and financial crises. I co-wrote the book The Group of Twenty (G20) (Routledge, 2012) with Andrew F. Cooper, a colleague in that project.

On the second point, I played a central role in the UN’s reconceptualisation of sovereignty as state responsibility and citizens as rights holders. This was unanimously endorsed by world leaders at the UN summit in 2005.

On the third point, in Utopia Lost: The United Nations and World Order (1995), Rosemary Righter (the former chief leader writer at the Times of London) quoted Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s description of the United Nations as “a place where the peoples of the world were delivered up to the designs of governments” (p. 85).

So yes, I do indeed know something about UN system reforms and the importance of sovereignty concerns in relation to powers given to UN bodies to prescribe what states may and may not do.

In agreeing to undertake to implement the WHO advisories, states will be creating a new system of pandemic management under the WHO authority and binding under international law. It will create an open-ended international law obligation to cooperate with the WHO and to fund it. This is the same WHO that has a track record of incompetence, poor decision-making, and politicised conduct. The insistence that sovereignty is not being surrendered is formulaic and legalistic, not substantive and meaningful in practice.

It relies on a familiar technique of gaslighting that permits plausible deniability on both sides. The WHO will say it only issued advisories. States will say they are only implementing WHO recommendations as otherwise, they will become rogue international outlaws. The resulting structure of decision-making effectively confers powers without responsibility on the WHO while shredding accountability of governments to their electorates. The losers are the peoples of the world.

A “Litany of Lies” and Misconceptions? Not So Fast.

Bloomfield’s engagement with the public debate on the WHO-centric architecture of global health governance is very welcome. I have lauded the WHO’s past impressive achievements in earlier writings, for example in the co-written book Global Governance and the UN: An Unfinished Journey (Indiana University Press, 2010). I also agree wholeheartedly that it continues to do a lot of good work, 24/7. In early 2020 I fought with a US editor to reject a reference to the possible virus escape from the Wuhan lab because of WHO’s emphatic statements to the contrary. I later apologised to him for my naivete.

Once betrayed, twice shy of the message: “Trust us. We are from the WHO, here to keep you safe.”

Sir Ashley was merely echoing the WHO chief. Addressing the World Governments Summit in Dubai on 12 February, Director-General (DG) Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus attacked “the litany of lies and conspiracy theories” about the agreement that “are utterly, completely, categorically false. The pandemic agreement will not give WHO any power over any state or any individual.”

DG Tedros and Sir Ashley do protest too much. If Australia chooses as a sovereign nation to sign them, that does not mean there is no loss of effective sovereignty (that is, the power to make its health decisions) from that point on.

This is why all 49 Republican senators have “strongly” urged President Joe Biden to reject the proposed changes. The expansion of “WHO’s authority over member states during” pandemic emergencies, they warn, would “constitute intolerable infringements upon US sovereignty.” In addition, 22 Attorneys-General have informed Biden that the WHO writ under the new accords will not run in their states.

On 8 May, the UK said it would not sign the new treaty unless clauses requiring transfer of pandemic products were deleted. Under Article 12.6.b of the then-draft, the WHO could sign “legally binding” contracts with manufacturers to get pandemic-related “diagnostics, therapeutics or vaccines.” Ten percent of this is to be free of charge and another ten percent at profit-free prices. In the latest, 22 April draft, this last requirement comes in Article 12.3.b.i in slightly softer language.

The UK wants to retain the right to use British-made products first to address domestic requirements as judged by the government, and only then to make them available for global distribution. The draft, the government fears, will undermine British sovereignty.

On 14 May, five senators and nine representatives from the Australian parliament wrote a formal letter to PM Anthony Albanese expressing deep concern over the likely prospect of Australia signing the accords that “will transform the WHO from an advisory organisation to a supranational health authority dictating how governments must respond to emergencies which the WHO itself declares.” If adopted and implemented into Australian law, they wrote, these would give the WHO “an unacceptable level of authority, power and influence over Australia’s affairs under the guise of declaring ‘emergencies’.”

“Legally Binding” vs “Loss of Sovereignty” is a Distinction without a Difference

They can’t all be part of a global conspiracy to peddle a litany of lies. The WHO is offering up a highly specious argument. Sir Ashley didn’t really engage with the substance of my arguments either. He dismissed criticism of the proposed changes as “an attempt by the WHO to gain the power to dictate to countries what they must do in the event of a pandemic” as a “misconception.”

The G20 Leaders’ Bali Declaration (November 2022, paragraph 19) supported the goal of a “legally binding instrument that should contain both legally binding and non-legally binding elements to strengthen pandemic planning, preparedness and response (PPR) and amendments to the IHR.” In September 2023, the G20 Delhi Leaders’ Declaration (28:vi) envisioned “an ambitious, legally binding WHO” accord “as well as amendments to better implement” the IHR.

Lawrence Gostin, actively involved in the negotiations, was co-author of a report last December that said containing transnational outbreaks under WHO leadership “may require all states to forgo some level of sovereignty.” A joint Reuters-World Economic Forum article on 26 May 2023 stated: “For the new more wide-reaching pandemic accord, member states have agreed that it should be legally binding.”

The WHO itself describes the IHR as “an instrument of international law that is legally-binding on 196 countries.” Last year it published a document that includes section 4.6 on “legally binding international instruments” such as a new pandemic accord.

I get the argument that sovereign states are voluntarily agreeing to this. In terms of legal technicality, it might well be more accurate, as Libby Klein suggests in her draft letter to Australian MPs, to use words and phrases like “ceding autonomy,” “yielding “effective control over public health decisions,” “outsourcing public health decision-making to the WHO,” or “offshoring our public health decision-making.” This is the legalistic distinction that Bloomfield is effectively making.

However, simply because states must voluntarily sign the new WHO accords doesn’t mean they will not be ceding sovereignty once the accords are adopted. With all due respect to Dr. Tedros and Sir Ashley, this is a distinction without a difference. Every single “legally binding” requirement will mean a transfer of effective decision-making power on health issues to the WHO. That is a curtailment of state sovereignty and it is disingenuous to deny it.

Since the creation of the United Nations in 1945, states have been required to conduct themselves increasingly in conformity with international standards. And it is the UN system that sets most of the relevant international standards and benchmarks of state behaviour.

For example, for centuries countries had the absolute right to wage wars of aggression and defence as an acknowledged and accepted attribute of sovereignty. By adopting the United Nations Charter in 1945, they gave up the right to wage aggressive wars. I am very glad they did so. Just because the surrender of this aspect of sovereignty was voluntary, it doesn’t mean there was no surrender of sovereignty.

Similarly, by signing the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), Australia and around 185 states surrendered their sovereign right to make or get the nuclear bomb. Again, I am very glad they did so.

Article 10 of the treaty does permit withdrawal after a three-month notice to other states parties and the UN Security Council:

Each Party shall in exercising its national sovereignty have the right to withdraw from the Treatyif it decides that extraordinary events…have jeopardisedthe supreme interests of its country.

Australia could still act as a sovereign state and pull out of the NPT but, absent exculpatory events, only at the reputational cost of acting illegally under international law.

North Korea first announced withdrawal from the NPT in 1993, suspended the withdrawal, withdrew in 2003, has conducted six nuclear tests since 2006, and acquired up to 50 bombs. Yet, the UN has refused to accept the withdrawal and it is still listed on the UN website as an NPT member, with the explanatory note that: “States parties to the Treaty continue to express divergent views regarding the status of the DPRK under the NPT.”

Like these two important examples, states will lose key parts of the right to exercise their sovereignty over national policy settings and decisions on health if the WHO accords are adopted. It is their sovereign right to reject the treaties now. They should exercise it before it is too late. The complications entangling the post-Brexit referendum in the UK demonstrate only too vividly how challenging it can be for a state to extricate itself from a supranational authority despite the sovereign right to do so.

The best way to allay these fears and concerns would be to return responsibility to where accountability lies: with the national government and parliament. States should learn to cooperate better in global pandemic management, not hand effective decision-making powers and authority to unelected and unaccountable international technocrats.

The Effort Should Be Put on Indefinite Hold

It is an iron law of politics that any power that can be abused, will be abused by someone, somewhere, some time in the future. For current examples of overreach by a technocrat, look no further than Australia’s eSafety Commissioner. The truly frightening thing about her example is the realisation of just how much her efforts have been deliberately embedded in a global campaign to “bureaucratise” and control the internet.

A softer conclusion is that powers once granted over citizens to authorities are far more difficult to claw back than not giving them the powers in the first place. Thus far from retreating, the Censorship-Industrial Complex is simultaneously being broadened to embrace additional sectors of governance and public policy and globalised.

report from Leeds University documented that pandemics are rare events. They are not becoming more frequent. For poor countries, their global disease burden is much lower than that of the big killer diseases like TB, malaria, and HIV/AIDS. For industrialised countries like Australia, the disease burden has been greatly reduced since the Spanish flu with improved surveillance, response mechanism, and other public health interventions.

There is no emergency justifying the rushed process. An immediate pause and a slow and deliberative process would lead to better policy development and deliver better national and global health policy outcomes.

“Pause for thought, argue for a wider delay, think it through properly. And don’t sign till it’s right.” David Frost, who led the UK Brexit negotiations.

Just so.


  • Ramesh Thakur

    Ramesh Thakur, a Brownstone Institute Senior Scholar, is a former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, and emeritus professor in the Crawford School of Public Policy, The Australian National University.

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