WASHINGTON/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – The United States will finish its relationship with the World Health Organization over the physique’s dealing with of the coronavirus pandemic, U.S. President Donald Trump mentioned on Friday, accusing the U.N. company of changing into a puppet of China.
The transfer to give up the Geneva-based physique, which the United States formally joined in 1948, comes amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing over the coronavirus outbreak. The virus first emerged in China’s Wuhan metropolis late final yr.
Speaking within the White House Rose Garden, Trump mentioned Chinese officers “ignored their reporting obligations” to the WHO in regards to the virus – that has killed a whole bunch of 1000’s of individuals globally – and pressured the company to “mislead the world.”
“China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying which is approximately $450 million a year,” he mentioned.
Trump’s resolution follows a pledge final week by Chinese President Xi Jinping to provide $2 billion to the WHO over the subsequent two years to assist fight the coronavirus. The quantity virtually matches the WHO’s complete annual program funds for final yr.
Trump final month halted funding for the 194-member group, then in a May 18 letter gave the WHO 30 days to decide to reforms.
“Because they have failed to make the requested and greatly needed reforms, we will be today terminating our relationship with the World Health Organization and redirecting those funds to other worldwide and deserving urgent global public health needs,” Trump mentioned on Friday.
It was not instantly clear when his resolution would come into impact. A 1948 joint decision of Congress on U.S. membership of the WHO mentioned the nation “reserves its right to withdraw from the organization on a one-year notice.”
The World Health Organization didn’t instantly reply to a request for touch upon Trump’s announcement. It has beforehand denied Trump’s assertions that it promoted Chinese “disinformation” in regards to the virus.
“It’s important to remember that the WHO is a platform for cooperation among countries,” mentioned Donna McKay, govt director of Physicians for Human Rights. “Walking away from this critical institution in the midst of an historic pandemic will hurt people both in the United States and around the world.”
The United States at the moment owes the WHO greater than $200 million in assessed contributions, in accordance with the WHO web site. Washington additionally offers a number of hundred million yearly in voluntary funding tied to particular WHO packages corresponding to polio eradication, HIV, hepatitis and tuberculosis.
Amesh A. Adalja, a senior scholar at Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, mentioned that in apply Trump’s resolution was unlikely to alter the operations of the WHO.
“From a symbolic or moral standpoint it’s the wrong type of action to be taking in the middle of a pandemic and seems to deflect responsibility for what we in the U.S. failed to do and blame the WHO,” mentioned Adalja.
When Trump halted funding to the WHO final month, two Western diplomats mentioned the U.S. suspension was extra dangerous politically to the WHO than to the company’s present packages, that are funded for now.
The WHO is an unbiased worldwide physique that works with the United Nations. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres mentioned final month that the WHO is “absolutely critical to the world’s efforts to win the war against COVID-19.”
When requested about Trump’s resolution, a U.N. spokesman mentioned: “We have consistently called for all states to support WHO.”
Trump has lengthy scorned multilateralism as he focuses on an “America First” agenda. Since taking workplace, he has give up the U.N. Human Rights Council, the U.N. cultural company, a world accord to deal with local weather change and the Iran nuclear deal. He has additionally lower funding for the U.N. inhabitants fund and the U.N. company that aids Palestinian refugees.
“The WHO is the world’s early warning system for infectious diseases,” mentioned U.S. Representative Nita Lowey, a Democrat who chairs the House Committee on Appropriations. “Now, during a global pandemic that has cost over 100,000 American lives, is not the time to put the country further at risk.”
Additional reporting by Carl O’Donnell; Editing by Daniel Wallis