U.S. terminating relationship with WHO set to be a lose-lose game

By Zhong Sheng
Washington on May 29 “upgraded” its farce of challenging the World Health Organization (WHO), announcing to terminate its relationship with the UN health organ and redirect its funding to other organizations because the latter “had failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms.”
By doing so, the U.S. aimed to turn the WHO into a scapegoat of its own inability to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, but only exposed its hegemonic practices in dealing with international organizations.
When COVID-19 is still spreading around the globe, to cure patients and save lives is an urgent task, and collaboration is needed in pandemic response. However, the U.S. blatantly shirked its international responsibility and chose to stand against justice and common sense at this critical moment.
Some American politicians, setting the world in trouble with unilateralism and bullying practices, are just despicable, especially when more than 6 million people worldwide – including more than 1.7 million in the U.S. – have been infected with the novel coronavirus.
What they encountered is widespread criticism both at home and abroad. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova criticized the U.S. decision, describing it as trampling on the international legal basis for world health cooperation at a time when the world needs to unite against the novel coronavirus.
The American Medical Association expressed in a statement that the decision of the U.S. “served no logical purpose,” saying it will make the work of fighting the global pandemic “dramatically more challenging.”
“Just when the world was trying to come together over an unprecedented health crisis, it’s all splintered apart,” said Lawrence O. Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown University, adding that “this kind of disruption and setting global health on fire is going to cost lives.”
Apparently, combating the pandemic through cooperation and solidarity is the mainstream consensus of the international society.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the WHO has actively fulfilled its responsibilities under the leadership of Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Several thousand staff members of the organization have fought day and night on the international anti-pandemic frontline to promote and coordinate global cooperation on COVID-19 response, receiving wide recognition and high praise from the international society.
A resolution regarding COVID-19 was adopted by the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA) on May 19. The resolution unequivocally affirms and supports the leading role of the WHO.
The 76th session of the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP)adopted a resolution on May 21, reiterating the key role of the UN in responding to the global pandemic and emphasizing the important role of the WHO in coordinating global response and curbing the spread of the virus.
The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a President’s Statement on human rights implications of COVID-19 on May 29, reaffirming the fundamental role of the UN system in coordinating the global response to control and contain the spread of COVID-19 and in supporting Member States, and acknowledging the crucial leading role played by the WHO.
In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the most serious global public health emergency since the end of World War II, the international community is increasingly aware that the WHO must be supported because it is essential for the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lying to others is the highest extent of self-deception. By ignoring the safety of the people and severing the U.S. relationship with the WHO, the American politicians aimed at nothing but shirkingresponsibility and deceiving others for private political gains.
These shady tricks have been seen through by the world. A scholar with the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security believes that the latest decision of the U.S. is unlikely to change the operation of theWHO and the U.S. severing ties with the WHO when the pandemic spreads globally is actually shifting the responsibility for its own mistakes.
U.S. media pointed out that the latest U.S. statement serves the purpose of shifting the blame for the inadequate response to COVID-19 that caused more than 100,000 deaths in America.
People have come to realize clearlythat some American politicians would rather tear off the fig leaf covering the reality of the U.S. democracy and human rights, and destroy the international rules and order that are conducive to maintaining the health and well-being of people of all countries, than take the responsibility for pandemic control and health governance at home, not to mention shouldering the international humanitarian responsibility.
At present, the global fight against COVID-19 is at a critical stage. To support the WHO to earnestly fulfill its responsibilities is to support international cooperation in the fight against the pandemic and saving lives, and shows the greatest respect for the right to life – the basic human right. On the contrary, unilateralism and the blame game reflect indifference to life, challenges to humanitarianism, and infringement on the right to life.
In front of the pandemic, to choose justice or injustice is a test to human conscience. The U.S. should see clearly that it is impossible to always act arbitrarily and any act that damages global anti-pandemic cooperation will only hurt the U.S. itself ultimately.
(Zhong Sheng is a pen name often used by People’s Daily to express its views on foreign policy.)