Senate Foreign Relations Committee Discusses International COVID-19 Response; European Nations Working With U.S. To Propose WHO Reforms As Trump Administration To Require U.S. Diplomats Justify Engagement With U.N. Body

Devex: U.S. senators debate international COVID-19 response
“The international COVID-19 response, President Donald Trump’s announcement that the U.S. would withdraw from the World Health Organization, and how the U.S. should address global health security moving forward were the focus of an at-times heated Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing Thursday…” (Saldinger, 6/19).

ProPublica: Inside the Trump Administration’s Decision to Leave the World Health Organization
“…ProPublica has interviewed senior officials at five federal agencies to understand the repercussions and the behind-the-scenes efforts to contain the damage of a decision in which they had little input. In the weeks after Trump’s Rose Garden declaration, the White House gave little direction on what to do next. Officials who deal with the WHO knew that withdrawal is a cumbersome process requiring a year’s notice, a multiagency review, and payment of unpaid dues. As a result, Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar instructed his department to continue cooperating with the organization. … At a meeting at the White House [on June 15], a director with the National Security Council told diplomats and health officials that they must now justify any engagement with the WHO as being necessary for national security and public health safety, senior government officials told ProPublica. In addition, the State Department has begun preparing formal paperwork to declare the official withdrawal of the United States from the WHO, officials said…” (Rotella et al., 6/20).

Reuters: Exclusive: Europeans working with U.S. to restructure WHO, top official says
“European governments are working with the United States on plans to overhaul the World Health Organization, a top health official for a European country said, signaling that Europe shares some of the concerns that led Washington to say it would quit. The European health official, who spoke on condition of anonymity while discussing initiatives that are not public, said Britain, France, Germany, and Italy were discussing WHO reforms with the United States at the technical level. The aim, the official said, was to ensure WHO’s independence, an apparent reference to allegations that the body was too close to China during its initial response to the coronavirus crisis early this year…” (Guarascio et al., 6/19).

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