My Interventions in the International Health Regulations 2005 e-petition (3)

Andrew Stephenson:

I do not believe it is right to name those civil servants. I am the overall lead on this in the Department of Health and Social Care. I am working closely and have already met with the Minister of State, Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, my right hon. Friend the Member for Sutton Coldfield (Mr Mitchell). Many other Government Departments will also have a very clear interest in this, including the life sciences Minister, my hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs (Andrew Griffith). Any treaty agreed will of course be subject to cross-Government write-rounds in the usual fashion, to agree a UK-wide position. It is fair to say that there will not just be one pair of eyes from the ministerial ranks looking at this. There will be multiple pairs of eyes looking at this from across Government to ensure that when we get to a deal, it is a deal that can be agreed across Government and that we believe is in the UK national interest.

John Redwood:

The possibility that the language may shift from saying “may” to “shall” is fundamental. I welcome all that the Minister has said about the current collaboration. I am glad it is working so well, but that is based on advice and urging, rather than requirement. It seems to me that this is just like the British people voting for the Common Market with the assurance that we had a veto on any law we did not like, but then somebody came along and took the vetoes away without seeking the British people’s permission, and the relationship went wrong from thereon. This could do exactly the same to the WHO, if we take away the veto.

Andrew Stephenson:

I hear where my right hon. Friend comes from and I share his concern. As I hope he will recognise, the WHO is led by its 193 member states, which are currently negotiating this. All international health regulations to date have been agreed by consensus, and we would hope that any changes to the regulations are also agreed by consensus. As I say, there are many amendments and parts of the draft that we would not agree to in their current form. I believe these negotiations will hopefully get us into a position—because I believe it is in all our interests and in the national interest—to agree revisions to the IHR. That has to be done through negotiation and consensus. I think that having an approaching deadline focuses minds, and I think it is the right thing to do.

I will give another concrete example of why I believe this is important. During the pandemic, the genomic data shared by our friends in India and elsewhere helped us to tailor vaccines as new variants emerged around the globe. We all saw over the pandemic that, as the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Birmingham, Edgbaston said, no one is safe until everyone is safe and that global problems require global solutions.

The best way to protect the UK from the next pandemic is by ensuring all WHO members can contain and respond effectively to public health events through compliance with strengthened IHR. Targeted amendments to the IHR will further strengthen our global health security, by helping Governments plan together, detect pathogens swiftly, and share data where helpful and necessary. The pandemic highlighted weaknesses in the implementation of the IHR for global health emergency response. For example, covid demonstrated that the IHR could be strengthened through a more effective early-warning system with a rapid risk assessment trigger for appropriate responses to public health threats.


  1. David Frank Paine
    December 20, 2023

    Concensus from 193 WHO member states? Just another opportunity for hostile players to undermine our sovereignty. Is our government so cowardly that it has to outsource all decision-making to global bodies, quangos etc?

    1. formula57
      December 20, 2023

      @ David Frank Paine ” Is our government so cowardly…” – Yes it is, did you think otherwise?

    2. Rona Topaz
      December 23, 2023

      Yup. So it appears.

  2. Donna
    December 20, 2023

    Consensus is a CON. It is a one-size-fits-all, top-down, solution to a perceived problem when it is blindingly obvious that one size NEVER fits all.

    The WHO’s intention is to impose a response to any future “crisis” they declare is a pandemic or risk to global health; to stifle debate and to mandate whatever medical interventions they deem appropriate.

    As we have seen from the Covid Tyranny with:

    1. Non-Pharmaceutical Interventions (which have wrecked the mental health of (some ed)previously healthy people);
    2. Coerced/mandated experimental gene therapies, which even the poor Adverse Event Recording Systems which are in use in the UK, EU, USA, Australia and NZ recognise ( may ed) have killed (some ed)and injured (more ed)
    3. Wrecked economies – poverty kills

    the WHO’s proposals will lead directly to a boot stamping on a human face …. forever. It’s a Communist policy.

  3. Mickey Taking
    December 20, 2023

    ‘I think that having an approaching deadline focuses minds,’
    What possible urgency created an approaching deadline?
    If it took 5 years to discuss and agree – so be it!

  4. glen cullen
    December 20, 2023

    Well done & well said SirJ

  5. Bloke
    December 20, 2023

    Changing ‘may’ to ‘shall’ is against the will of the people.

  6. formula57
    December 20, 2023

    So the civil servants Minister Stephenson will not name are operating without Ministerial leadership for he had just confessed “The negotiations are being led by civil servants across Whitehall”. Why is there no named Minister in charge and accountable to the people’s elected representatives?

  7. ChrisS
    December 20, 2023

    All world-wide organisations like the UN and WHO are dominated by either a caucus of third world countries whose interests rarely if ever align with those of the West, or Chinese-led groups of countries who have been bought by Chinese-communist investments with the result that they are greatly indebted to China.

    We only have to look at the UN to see how our interests are constantly being undermined. The UN Special Committee on Decolonization is a perfect example : there are 17 territories targeted by the committee, 11 of them are British and include Gibraltar and the Falkand Islands, whose residents have overwhelmingly voted for the status quo. One look at the membership of the committee tells you everything you need to know :

  8. Peter Gardner
    December 21, 2023

    There is much sleight of hand in Stephenson’s statements. For example he states: “I will give another concrete example of why I believe this is important. During the pandemic, the genomic data shared by our friends in India and elsewhere helped us to tailor vaccines as new variants emerged around the globe.”
    That is true but there is no logical path from that to the WHO mandating how countries respond to a pandemic. And who is ‘we’? Does he mean independent research organisations and pharmaceutical companies? It wasn’t WHO conducting or funding all the research and development although it may have facilitated or could in future facilitate sharing of research? Why would it be better if it were?
    Since any decision making body can make mistakes, having a single one increases the risk of a mistake and widens the impact of the damage when it makes the wrong decision. Diversity is an unfortunate word to use because of its social overtones but true diversity of approaches and decision making is a collective strength. Those who get it wrong can learn from those who get it right so long as there is diversity. That is also why the UK’s Covid enquiry should compare the UKs response to those of the countries who performed better. it seems unlikely it will but that’s another issue.
    Since Stephenson raised genomics I point out that Australia was, I believe, unique in using genomics alongside contact tracing via a Australia-NZ wide data base of the genome data of all PCR tests to locate patient zero of each outbreak so as to warn others to get tested and to localise restrictions and where necessary to decontaminate a premesis. Should the WHO have then mandated that in all countries? No, because not all would have been able to do it. Would WHO have been adequately aware of and sensitive to country differences to make the right decision? Probably not.

  9. Derek
    December 21, 2023

    “The best way to protect the UK from the next pandemic is by ensuring all WHO members can contain and respond effectively to public health events through compliance with strengthened IHR”. And he believes that all 198 signatories will abide by the rules? Never mind “woke” thinking, it’s time for those in power to actually WAKE UP to reality. Clearly, too many ignore the rules when the rules they have signed up to do not suit them, and that will make this country ultra-vulnerable.

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