US bossing WHO; France and Germany quit reformation talks

By Rahul Vaimal, Associate Editor
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Despite its decision to leave the WHO, the US is attempting to lead the negotiations on the reorganization of the international body and this has frustrated France and Germany, who have withdrawn from talks on the same, three officials have said.

The decision is a setback for the American president as the country, which holds the G7 rotating presidency, had planned to release a shared road map in September for a sweeping restructuring of the WHO, two months before the US presidential elections.

G7 is an international intergovernmental economic organization consisting of seven major developed countries – Italy, Canada, Japan, France, the United Kingdom, Germany and the United States.

In July, the United States gave a year’s notice to the WHO that it is quitting the UN body — founded to boost health internationally — after Trump accused it of being too close to China and mismanaging the coronavirus pandemic.

The WHO has dismissed his claims. The European governments have also criticized the WHO with Germany’s health minister urging the WHO to hasten a review of its COVID-19 handling. But they did not go as far as the United States, and the decision by France and Germany to exit the talks reflects conflicts over what they claim is the effort by the US to control the negotiations.

France’s health ministry said, “The US should not take the lead in the WHO reform process after announcing their intention to leave the organization.”

The WHO reform talks, which began nearly four months ago aims to make the organization independent from political pressure. For the same, around 20 teleconferences were held between ministers of health from the Group of Seven Industrialized Nations and scores of diplomats while other official meetings have also been going on.

Any G7 agreement will require further discussions at the United Nations and the G20. Further, any final agreements will have to be agreed by Russia, China and other major non-G7 governments.

It’s doubtful whether the G7 summit to be held in the US in September, at which Trump hopes the leaders will support the road map, will now proceed as scheduled.

US officials have not clarified as to what the road map proposes. Yet many of its allies termed it as too critical, with one European official involved in the negotiations describing it as “rude.”