GENEVA (C-Fam) The Biden administration has pushed for abortion in a controversial new global health treaty. The Biden negotiators also insisted that the negotiations remain secret away from the American people.
U.S. Ambassador Pamela K. Hamamoto called for the new World Health Organization pandemic treaty to include an obligation to provide “sexual and reproductive health services” as essential health care services during pandemics in the U.S. opening statement of negotiations this week [week of Feb. 27].
“A commitment to equity must address inequities not just between countries, but also within them, not just protecting people from pandemics but also from illness, death, and disrupted access to essential health care services during pandemics, including sexual and reproductive health services,” the U.S. Ambassador said, adding that the U.S. expects this commitment to equity to be integrated “across the draft” of the pandemic treaty.
At the close of the negotiations today [Mar. 3] Hamamoto agreed with China that negotiations and future versions of the draft treaty should not be open to the public. “I think at this stage I have some concerns about sharing the draft to all stakeholders given where we are in the process,” she said.
Hamamoto explained that her real concern was keeping U.S. proposals secret from Americans.
“Certainly, if we are sharing it with all stakeholders, we would support removing the attribution of member states,” she said.
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The EU representative disagreed with the Biden position, telling delegates that the European Union would like more transparency to avoid “misunderstandings and potential misinformation,” and that it would share EU comments and positions publicly.
The new pandemic treaty is controversial because of the far-reaching implications the treaty would have for national health policies, including abortion policy. Negotiations began this week amid confusion as to the exact process for the negotiations. The first draft of the treaty was discussed only in general terms this week.
The draft includes proposals to concentrate new powers in the Director of the World Health Organization, including the authority to declare a global pandemic emergency that would trigger new binding obligations under the treaty. It would establish a new global bureaucracy to assist countries develop national pandemic planning “pre-, post- and inter-pandemic.”
On top of these new powers, it calls on governments to “tackle false, misleading, misinformation or disinformation” and promote “confidence and uptake of vaccines.”
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The broad scope of the draft treaty could bring all national health policy and more under the purview of pandemic preparedness, including abortion policy. It calls on governments to address not just pandemic-related policies but all the “social, environmental and economic determinants of health”, including issues like “economic growth, the environment, employment, trade, transport, gender equality, education, social assistance, housing, food insecurity, nutrition and culture, and especially for persons in vulnerable situations.”
Editor's note: Stefano Gennarini writes for C-Fam. This article first appeared in the Friday Fax, an internet report published weekly by C-Fam (Center for Family & Human Rights), a New York and Washington DC-based research institute. This article appears with permission. A Mar. 8 joint press statement from the U.S. State Department and Dept. of Health and Human Services indicated that work on the Pandemic Accord was in progress and that "the next meeting of the Negotiating Body will take place next month, with a target date for conclusion of May 2024."