Unpacking Tucker Carlson on WHO’s “Pandemic Treaty” (So-Called)

“But you gotta know the territory.” –Meredith Willson, The Music Man

By Lambert Strether of Corrente.

I hold no brief for WHO’s performance during the Covid pandemic, as readers know. Here’s WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, and several other functionaries, modeling proper masking behavior for the world:

Surgical masks. Not N95s. Good Lord. Just appalling. However, WHO’s performance has bigger problems than ignorance — one hopes not malice — at the managerial level. From the British Medical Journal:

Global cooperation in response to the covid-19 pandemic has failed. Despite an established World Health Organisation (WHO) framework for early outbreak responses—the International Health Regulations, which require states to implement pathogen surveillance, detection, and alerts, and accurate public health communications—most states were sluggish and uncoordinated in their collective responses to covid-19…. States have remained divided in their response to covid-19 which has risked and likely cost millions of lives…. It is in this context that the World Health Assembly accepted a recommendation to negotiate and draft a pandemic treaty. It is down to member states of the WHO—comprising nearly all the countries in the world—to adopt the treaty.”

So it makes sense for international institutions — that is, if you believe they can play a useful role, as not all do — to initiate a process to improve the mechanisms for global co-operation available to them. From the London School of Economics:

After the multiple governance failures of the pandemic, the international community agreed at a Special Session of the World Health Assembly (WHASS) on the need to draft a convention, agreement or other international instrument for pandemic preparedness and response. An intergovernmental negotiating body (INB) was established to draft it under the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO).

(I won’t belabor this point, but the INB’s deliverable need not be a “treaty” per se; it can be a “a convention, agreement or other international instrument.” But we have to call it something, and “pandemic treaty” is as good as anything else. The United States, incidentally, has opposed a “binding treaty.”) The meeting of the World Health Assembly this week was the occasion for Tucker Carlson’s Opinion: “Tucker: Biden administration is close to giving WHO power over every intimate aspect of your life” (transcript), the topic of this post.

I have to give Carlson credit for doing the Lord’s work in nobbling the Biden Administraiton’s wacky proposal for a DHS. But this opinion is a bit of a Gish Gallop. To done my yellow waders, I’d have to have mastered the intricacies of WHO’s governance and drafting process, which I have not yet done (nor has Carlson, as we shall see). So I’m going to focus only on two of Carlson’s paragraphs, one on the “treaty” adoption process, the other on potential loss of national sovereignty. Having, in a past life, participated in the development of international standards, I’m going to be persnickety. (I’m not going to focus on Carlson’s irritable mental gestures; for example, it worries me more that Bill Gates, squillionaire, probably has more clout as a donor at WHO than most nation states, than that Tedros, like Buttigieg’s father (and Harris’s), is a [gasp] “Marxist,” whatever that might mean to Carlson. Nor will I focus on other conservative luminaries like Michelle Bachmann or Marco Rubio.)

(1) The “Treaty” Adoption Process

Carlson says (and I would be super-happy if FOX turned off autoplay so I didn’t have to actually hear him saying it):

This January[1], the Biden administration submitted a series of proposed amendments to something called the International Health Regulations (the IHR)[2]. Now[3], the Biden administration’s amendments, along with those from several other countries, will be combined[4] to create a new global pandemic treaty[5]. “We need a pandemic treaty.” That treaty is set to be adopted starting this weekend in Geneva at the World Health Assembly[6].

Here are the problems I can find with this paragraph:

[1] The proposed amendments (here) were accepted on 12 April 2022, which is when they became part of the formal amendments process, a more relevant date.

[2] The amendments were submitted to WHO (see the WHO logo on the stationery). The amendments could not have been submitted to the International Health Regulations, because they are just that: regulations.

[3] No, they won’t. The Biden administration’s amendments are not even on the agenda for the current World Health Assembly meeting.

[4] There’s no reason at all to think this “will” happen. First, the IHR and the “Pandemic Treaty” are different documents under the control of different entities; “it is not yet clear how the 2005 regulations and the new pandemic treaty might fit together.” Second, the “Pandemic Treaty” will be the result of interminable sausage-making, and even if the United States submits its IHR amendments to the Intergovernmental Negotiating Body there’s no guarantee of what “will” happen.

[5] I said I wouldn’t belabor “treaty” so I won’t.

[6] Only by stretching the word “starting” to absurd lengths can this statement be construed as anything like true. Here is the schedule according to the UK House of Commons:

According to the WHO, the following are key dates in the progress of the treaty.

The INB will host its second round of public consultation hearings on 16-17 June 2022.

The INB will meet by 1 August 2022 to discuss and consider a working draft treaty.

The INB will deliver a progress report to the 76th World Health Assembly in 2023.

The INB will submit its outcome for consideration by the 77th World Health Assembly in 2024.

So, “starting” on this weekend in 2022, indeed. “Submitted for consideration” in 2024, which is absolutely nowhere near “adopted,” since WHO could send the draft back to the INB for a rework. Come on. (Granted that this schedule, in fact, very rapid for an international organization, whose progress tends to be more stately.)

Needless to say, that’s a lot to get wrong in one paragraph.

(2) Potential Loss of National Sovereignty

For newer readers, let me establish my bona fides by showing how vehemently I was opposed to the loss of national sovereignty under another globalist project, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); see here, here, and here. Onward to Carlson:

Carlson says:

Now, the Biden administration has made certain that unelected bureaucrats, the W.H.O., have total authority to declare and define public health emergencies[1]. They did it explicitly. The White House eliminated a provision that would have required the World Health Organization to “consult with an[d] attempt to obtain verification from the state party in whose territory the event is allegedly occurring in.”[2]

[1] Looking through the Biden Administration’s amendments, States have sole power under Article 6 (page 5) to notify WHO of “all events which may constitute a public health emergency of international concern within its territory.” Upon notification, under Article 12 (page 8) “the Director-General shall determine, on the basis of information received, in particular from the State Party within whose territory an event is occurring, whether an event constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.” These texts are not amended by the United States.

[2] Here is the full context for Carlson’s quote in the Biden Administration’s amendments (means deletion and means addition).

Article 9: Other reports

1. WHO may take into account reports from sources other than notifications or consultations and shall assess these reports according to established epidemiological principles and then communicate information on the event to the State Party in whose territory the event is allegedly occurring. Before taking any action based on such reports, WHO shall consult with and attempt to obtain verification from the State Party in whose territory the event is allegedly occurring in accordance with the procedure set forth in Article 10. To this end, WHO shall make the information received available to the States Parties and only where it is duly justified may WHO maintain the confidentiality of the source. This information will be used in accordance with the procedure set forth in Article 11.

I think Carlson’s argument is that the Biden Administration’s deletion is an end-run around the requirements in Articles 6 and 12 that only notifications from States can trigger the Director-General’s determination of a public health emergency. First, the unamended wording clearly already permits that (“WHO may take into account reports from sources other than notifications”). Second, the Biden Administration’s deletion may, in fact, be aimed at China (and possibly even be a poison pill, if indeed the Administration opposes a “binding treaty”). One of the chief features of Covid’s early days in China was whistleblowers and scientists trying desperately o get the word out to the international community. By eliminating the requirement to “obtain verification from the State Party,” the Biden deletions “explicitly” would have empowered those whistleblowers. Third, I have to ask what the concrete impact of the amendment would be, other than more information. From Article 10, “Verification”:

When WHO receives information of an event that may constitute a public health emergency of international concern, it shall offer within 24 hours to collaborate with the State Party concerned in assessing the potential for international disease spread, possible interference with international traffic and the adequacy of control measures. Such activities may include collaboration with other standardsetting organizations and the offer to mobilize international assistance in order to support the national authorities in conducting and coordinating on-site assessments. … If the State Party does not accept the offer of collaboration within 48 hours, WHO shall may, when justified by the magnitude of the public health risk, immediately share with other States Parties the information available to it, whilst encouraging the State Party to accept the offer of collaboration by WHO, taking into account the views of the State Party concerned.

Taking it all together, in my reading the Biden amendments are designed to decrease the possibility that a State may suppress information about a potential pandemic within its borders. Is that so very bad? Certainly China did this, and certainly Carlson, correctly, considers that wrong.


International Affairs, in “The futility of the pandemic treaty: caught between globalism and statism,” provides the following 30,000-foot view:

To put the point simply, the content of the pandemic treaty currently being proposed is at its heart a globalist project…

Which is, I would urge, the real issue for conservatives, and not without reason.

… seeking to improve health for all, allow equity in preparedness for and response to future pandemics, and asserting at its core the universality of human populations. Even within states we see tension between health and development ministries, and between cabinets and foreign ministries, on such issues. Championing solidarity and equity requires states to depart from state-centric policy-making and focus on the global, something states have been unable or unwilling to do in global health governance to date, and indeed during the COVID-19 pandemic. Until such tension between statist reality and globalist ideals is addressed, any pandemic treaty will remain impossible to implement. To move forward, rich countries must answer the question of what they are willing to give up nationally in order to be better prepared internationally for future pandemics. Statist policy-making during COVID-19 has shown the answer to be: not much.

TPP, the globalist’s chef d’oeuvre, went down to defeat. The Biden Administration’s current trade proposals in Asia do not resemble TPP at all (though the sausage-making has hardly begun). Yves credits the superb work of Public Citizen — and Lori Wallach, especially — for that defeat. Wallach was the absolute mistress of detail on TPP; her voice became 100% authoritative across the political spectrum, including globalists and statists. Tucker Carlson, even without putting aside his virtues, is not such a voice, as I believe I have shown in this post. Perhaps such a voice will emerge. The “pandemic treaty” certainly needs one.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
This entry was posted in Globalization, Guest Post, Pandemic, Politics on by .

About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      I wondered about this question with serious intent. Is there a name for a Gish-galloping liar like Carlson which would immediately indicate that a Carlsonoid figure is being discussed?

      Very recently there was an article or a comment or something saying that Murdoch’s and Carlson’s success is just a symptom of “hypercapitalism” or something.

      That may well be, but if the so-called left cannot even destroy a discrete entity like Murdoch or Fox or Carlson, then the so-called left is not going to be able to affect a huge world-wide force-field matrix like “hypercapitalism”.

      1. lambert strether

        I don’t think Carlson is quite that simple a figure; I prefer him, for example, to the liberal and shouty Keith Olbermann. But he’s, putting it politely, a pundit not an analyst. As I think this post shows.

        I have a “Republican Funhouse” category in Water Cooler because a lot of Republican moral panics strike me as images in funhouse mirrors; reflecting reality, but with terrible, cartoonish, virtually hormonal distortion. (We can talk about liberal Democrats another time. One example is replacement theory, where one thing most definitely reflected is the Democrats “coalition of the ascendant,” where demographic change was supposed to bring Democrats to power based on identity politics, without them actually doing anything. )

        It’s important to understand that the reality behind the funhouse mirror — here a threat to national sovereignty– may be interesting and important; the trick is to discount the image properly by removing the distortion, untightening the yarn in too closely coupled yarn diagrams, etc.

        Carlson, however, isn’t helping the process by being sloppy and wrong.

        1. yancey

          Carlson, like Maddow, has characterize himself as a narrative liar. That is one of the qualification of being a media personality. That and the occasional ability to read and move one’s limbs.

          1. Lambert Strether Post author

            > a narrative liar

            I think that’s an oversimplification, not to say a category error. They are liars, certainly, but that’s not all they are. Since lying is virtually universal in their milieu, lying alone cannot give an account of their success.

            1. drumlin woodchuckles

              Carlson supplies his Fox audience with the fight-or-flight anger-hate dopamine hits their brains have become addicted to. I have seen him “debate” global warming experts. He lies to their faces about what they think, know and believe. He strategically diverts them into debating his lies. I saw him do it with Bill Nye the Science Guy. And he does the same with other “pinyata experts” in other fields. And I have also seen him bring on ridiculous caricatures of ” the enemy” to pretend to “debate” them.

              Carlson offers a bucket of lies with a few truths in it, like a bucket of pus with a few hershey’s kisses in it. Is it worth picking through the pus for the hershey’s kisses?
              I would need to be paid to do it, myself.

              If Carlson didn’t serve his Murdoch paymaster, Carlson would not be paid to be on Fox.

              His occasional truths are bait to lure in the unwary, like corn below a deer hunter’s blind.

              Carlson delenda est.
              Fox delenda est.
              Murdoch delenda est.

              Not that I have the slightest trace of power to do that.

        2. Pat

          I realize we are supposed to be ignoring the flip side, but I have to wonder if the reality distorted in the mirror being important has always been there. Call it my liberal bias but after discounting Fox for so long, I can’t be sure when it started.

          I also have to wonder if the flip side is in the early decades of Fox, where it is all outrage based not on some distorted reality but hurt feefees and when they might transition, or if it is my anti-liberal bias.

          1. anon y'mouse

            i don’t know if this is a genuinely direct response to your ponderings, but my ponderings on these distorted ideas is that they are part of the kayfabe game.

            each side is allowed to distort something so badly that the other side automatically discounts it. it basically removes the concept from proper consideration, thus no one is noticing what fingers are going in which pies and the overall goals of the oligarchy carry on without scrutiny.

            i would term this a kind of black propaganda. the two parties are really adept at using not only political footballs but these funhouse mirror mini-hysterias to maintain fealty within their party while doing the dirty bipartisan business behind closed doors.

            as in with “the great replacement”: the overclass wants, above all, cheap workers who are easily divided among themselves. to that end, they will import anyone they can get away with to replace americans who are somewhat schooled from young age that there are rights and limits and laws that are somehow supposed to protect “the little guy”. how to make this palatable to both “sides”? cast it in an insane racial format which side R can run with simply to drum up support but which they intend to do little about since they are totally the creature of Capitalists. while side D can poo poo (somewhat legitimately), demonize the other side as horrible racists and keep pressing on with calls for their side to be the more enlightened, “diverse” and humane one while basically turning their face and pretending not to notice for whatever is happening at the border or with H1Bs, and then helping to pass laws for more H1Bs instead of laws for free education to train up our own domestic workforce.

            this is how both sides use a concept to make sure no one realizes they are shaking hands behind closed doors, and maintains support within their own parties. indeed, these idiot funhouse issues come to define a lot of the difference (or what people within them aspire to be the difference) between the members in either party.

        3. drumlin woodchuckles

          That’s true about Keith Olberman. The last few times I heard him, it was like pouring molten broken glass into my ears.

          And Rachel Maddow just smirks and rambles and babbles and cocks the ever-so-arch eyebrow. She is a bowl of old stale rancid eye-oatmeal.

          Tucker is sometimes fun to watch when one is in a detached mood and can feel that the stakes are absolutely zero. But if you are in a mood to think that man-made global warming matters and should be reversed, Tucker’ nasty smarmy denialism and Gish-gallop serial lying is unpleasant to watch.

  1. DrSloperWazRobbed

    Ah ok, this explains why my 5 hour-a-week Carlson-watching parents were all agog about one-world government.
    My folks always have been right-wing populist/populist, but it has definitely gotten worse, and Ol’ Blood N Guts Carlson isn’t helping.
    I’ve taken to thinking of Fox as a reverse mortgage for whatever intelligence they have left. Fox gives them outrage, transgressive racial animosity(my mom isn’t white, and I bet Carlson has a few hundred thousand non-white audience members. Maybe more. I do wish the Dems would even stop saying the WORD white), and some laughs; and in return Fox gradually takes away their brains, really.
    Quite a deal.

    1. super extra

      my sincere condolences on the loss of your parents’ brains. I concur with the non-white audience appeal of Fox and Carlson in particular; he’s even made inroads with my native american family.

      1. DrSloperWazRobbed

        Thank you super extra. Same to you for your family. Good/bad to hear that I’m not alone re Carlson. They LOVE him. Loads of my Cuban/Filipino family are fans.

    2. rowlf

      Cheese and rice. Many of my office coworkers watch Fox all the time and I have to talk them off the ledges.

      Being from the same state and maybe planet as Sun Ra, I am amazed at how the dogs in the kennels never notice how they get triggered to start barking.

    3. anon y'mouse

      one world government could be fine or it could be hell. it depends upon who is in charge and how the laws are made, doesn’t it?

      “globalism” was supposed to effect the one-world government de facto. the official part can come later, after everyone has internalized M. Thatcher’s dictums.

  2. DrSloperWazRobbed

    Haha I just remembered that I stole the idea for my nom-de-plume years ago from the author of this post, and also used a Henry James character’s name.

  3. David

    OK, what we have here is a set of regulations which are amended from time to time by the World Health Assembly, operating under whichever treaty set up the WHO. All such treaties give international organisations the right to issue and amend such regulations, without the need to renegotiate the Treaty. Carlson appears to be correct in what he says: the Director General is circulating a US proposal for amendments to the 2005 version of the International Health Regulations, and the Secretariat has put these on the agenda for the next meeting of the WHA, under item 16,2 of the proposed agenda. So they might be agreed then, and the IHR changed as a consequence. Equally, they might be rejected, modified, or combined with changes proposed by other nations. They may also be put aside for consultation and later consideration. But any changes agreed will be changes to the Regulations: they don’t and can’t constitute a new Treaty. The proposals have only been “accepted” onto the agenda of the meeting, which would be pretty much routine for proposals from any country.

    But this has nothing to do with a Treaty, and regulations of this sort can’t commit parties to things which are not possible in the Treaty. In any event there’s probably a unanimity clause about accepting amendments to the Regulations. If there were a new Treaty, it would itself need a whole host of detailed regulations, but we’re a long way from that, and the two things have nothing to do with each other for the moment. And I agree the force of the amendments is to make life more difficult for the Chinese.

    1. lambert strether

      No links, lots of “mights.” Hard to see why IHR amendments would be on the agenda if the Secretary can simply promulgate changes. In any case, Reuters (link given) says they’re off the agenda.

      1. David

        The Secretariat can’t simply « promulgate changes » and isn’t doing so. They are putting proposed changes from the US on the agenda for a future meeting, which is all any Secretariat can do. That’s what the document says, although Reuters may well be right that the proposals have since been removed. Of course the Secretariat will be responsible for « promulgating » changes later, once they have been agreed, in the sense of «  publicising. » I don’t know enough about Carlson to know if he’s genuinely ignorant about this kind of thing or just pretending.

  4. Henry Moon Pie

    Nice dissection. But I must admit to not being surprised that Carlson and journalism have nothing in common.

    Carlson seems to be The Voice of the New Nationalism. I catch some of him on YouTube, especially after his dissection of Victoria Nuland–and I think about anyone would have to admit that he and his producer did a thorough job of that. He spent one whole show bashing what he called Neoliberalism. Of course, the content was Tucker’s special brew of Woke-ism, recycled “predators” talk mixed with some stuff that at least sounds populist. Still, why did he choose to devote a whole show bashing what is so strongly identified with Reagan? Why such direct attacks on the American defense Establishment, attacks that could easily lead to cynicism about the Exceptionalism so sacred to Carlson? He’s pretty slippery, and clearly this has gone way beyond Trump. Is it Bannon-connected? Trump’s (and Goldman’s) bad boy seems to be concentrating on Europe, especially Hungary. But then Tucker interviewed Orban.

    Weird times, but he is clearly not the same guy as the privileged boob who used to sit across from Begala.

    1. super extra

      I keep an eye on him because I see him as a potential successor or alternate to Trump. (do not confuse me saying this with me wanting this.) He has a huge audience by potential voters standards and despite the weird accusations of ‘white supremacy’ from some lib types he has a lot of non-white viewers. I think he’s slippery and possibly also a class traitor. I think he’s someone on Team Red (putatively) who could reasonably sell and promote pro-worker or sewer socialist policies. I think he is also smart enough to recognize his privileges long term rely on at least some form of worthy society and civilization left in the country.

      1. DrSloperWazRobbed

        Carlson doesn’t need to put forward any ideological consistency. All he has to do is sell his populist ‘throw the bums out’ rage. I agree though that he does seem to be doing something interesting when it comes to grandfathering in what is usually the far right way of thinking and talking (worrying about white South African farmers; great replacement theory; a maniacal obsession w black women; calling immigrants ‘dirty’, ‘obedient’…it goes on) to grandfathers and grandmother who watch his show. My theory is he wants to stay edgy and not be out-edged by Bannon, Nick Fuentes, and so on. As super extra points out though, that kind of thing attracts loads of fans who aren’t white (although I’d bet he has few black fans. Watch his show for 2 hours. The amount of black women criticized is the most blatant dog-whistle). But is he dangerous? Maybe. But maybe he balances out the crazy on the eft, and gives the left the chance to look like the high ground in comparison to him…..I’ve given him much thought as he took over my parents’ brains over the last few years.

      2. drumlin woodchuckles

        Maybe a DeSantis/ Carlson ticket. More exciting than Biden/Whomever, if excitement is your cup of battery acid.

    2. Basil Pesto

      Tucker Carlson: The Elite Pedigree of a Brilliant Cosplaying “Populist” is quite good.

      Carlson may occasionally make some cogent points on various themes when he isn’t ranting about [family bloggable] cartoon M&Ms (probably, I suspect, nicked by his staff from blogs like this one), but this is obviously cynical posturing: Carlson and many of his sort clearly understand, correctly, that there is serious disenchantment on “the left” in America, particularly with the Democratic party, and sees this, with generic cunning, as a chance to recruit them to 1) his viewership, 2) his cause, whatever that may be. To look at his little entertainment packages and accept that he’s made a good point and then parlay that into some kind of political trust for the guy seems to me about as foolish as trusting Obama (who, of course, made all kinds of sensible claims that Americans were and are amenable to in the Carson fashion while campaigning for 2008).

      Once trust is established, of course, it makes it easier to rile his audience with fearmongering of this sort.

      1. Amfortas the hippie

        high fructose corn syrup, mixed in with just enough sugar cane sugar to make it feel real.
        so many…like you say, especially on the erstwhile Left(not the Woke…that ain’t “Left”)…are desperate for something to be a part of, some meaningful path to “Better”, however nebulously defined.
        if there’s no actual Lefty party for them, they will be…and are…ripe for the picking…especially when these itinerant preachers start mouthing believable sing-song about unions and what they not so long ago derided as “Entitlements”.
        this has been fermenting in the dark at sites like Front Porch Republic, TAC, First Things…then Marco Rubio and that Hawley guy brought it out on the front porch…and even trump had the mad ad hoc and intuitive acumen to add such talk to his random raving…it’s been a bird’s nest on the ground, left there by the demparty, since the 70’s.

  5. juno mas

    …and this is why International organizations don’t really want you to see how the “sausage” is made. ;)

  6. Fraibert

    It sounds like Mr. Carlson is wrong on this matter, but I encourage readers carefully parse any treaty that sounds like it /could/ infringe on national sovereignty. Article 6, Clause 2 of the Constitution provides that:

    “This Constitution, and the Laws of the United States which shall be made in Pursuance thereof; and all Treaties made, or which shall be made, under the Authority of the United States, shall be the supreme Law of the Land . . . .”

    This provision means that a duly ratified treaty has near-equal legal status to the actual Constitution. Presumably, a treaty cannot directly contradict a provision in the Bill of Rights of the Constitution (e.g., a treaty could not limit First Amendment rights) but, to some unclear degree, a treaty probably can be used to create the governing legal framework for a particular area of American law, akin to a limited scope Constitution. (Interestingly, some scholars take the position that a treaty can be used to create new rights that are not in the Bill of Rights proper.)

    Generally speaking, treaties are not “self-executing,” as the legal term goes. A self-executing treaty is one where the treaty provisions can be directly referenced as the governing law. Instead, treaty signatories implement treaty provisions by passing legislation. However, there is no legal principle prohibiting a treaty from being self-executing.

    Put the above together, and one can readily see how a self-executing treaty that abrogates some portion of national sovereignty or otherwise establishes certain legal rules can be extremely dangerous. At least there are some safeguards: treaties require two-thirds of the Senate for ratification, and the Presidency has, through repeated practice, effectively claimed the unilateral right to terminate treaties (though treaties themselves also can include provisions governing a state party’s termination so leaving may not be as easy as the President signing an order).

    1. lambert strether

      The US does not consider IHR to be self executing.We cannot know what the “Pandemic Treaty” will be, because it has not ye t emerged from drafting. It seems unlikely to me that it would be.

  7. The Rev Kev

    Certainly any new such Treaty should be regarded with suspicion. It might have made more sense to create one based on access of all nations to medical treatment and gear considering that in the first year or two of the pandemic, that bigger nations just hogged all medical gear for themselves and even felt free to hijack the medical gear meant for other nations. But I can see how this new treaty could be abused just on reporting alone.

    So would it be that China would have had to give immediate access to all medical facilities in China and I mean all of them at the first hint of an outbreak? And that the Treaty has provision for punishment if they do not comply? Would there be exemptions for all those medical research labs that the US/EU has scattered around the periphery of Russia and China? If not, the President may sign the Treaty but the Senate would never ratify it which would not stop Washington hold to account those that have.

    But one data point has my suspicions up. The past few weeks there has been WHO attacks on Russia. There was pressure to move an important office from Moscow, even though Russia gives significant resources to the WHO. And on May 10th, member states of the WHO European region took a vote that led to the adoption of a resolution condemning Russia’s aggression in the Ukraine. In addition, There was a minor attempt to ban them from upcoming annual 75th World Health Assembly.

    But the data point that has me wondering is that Russia is considering leaving the WHO. Now why would they do that? They are not a petty country and usually have sound reasons for acting like this. Could it be then that they realize some of the unpublished implications of this new Treaty coming in being used as a weapon by some nations?


    1. lambert strether

      As I read it, the amendment I looked at, and Carlson quoted, is about information sharing only, not commandeering facilities

      1. Basil Pesto

        Moreover, the very notion is silly. International law is fragile enough as it is, there is no tendency in the ~international community~ to draft treaties with terms that virtually no, even just modestly powerful state would agree to (I don’t even understand why Americans are concerned about a ‘treaty’, assuming the people who have been harping on about this issue are talking about some de novo treaty that they think is about to come into existence; treaties of this sort are not the kind of treaty that the United States signs or ratifies). That is to say: when party x, whoever that may be, says to China when the time comes – assuming that China has even signed and ratified such a treaty – “hey guess what, you now have to surrender all your pertinent medical facilities to us/allow us unfettered access”, China is just going to say “lol no”. And that’ll be that. Same goes for Russia.

        I highlight us, as in Us vs Them. That is all Carlson and the various alt-media wannabes are concerned with here – whether they believe the nonsense they’re spouting or not – because that rhetoric is what is lucrative to them. He has scarcely any intellectual/legal point to make here, let alone a meritorious one.

        1. Amfortas the hippie

          tucker’s take on this is a subspecies and descendant of the same narrative framework that had Ike as a communist plant…another bird’s nest left by the roadside for anyone to pick up….in this case, raw hamburger laced with meth for the Tea Elements.
          long tradition on the amurkin right that dems/globalists/commies are under every bed, ready to undo the virtuous republic and turn us all gay.
          i trust Lambert, and what i’ve read here says this is a nothingburger…much like Agenda 21, Fema as the secret gubmit, and the Clintons as some kind of Vanguard for world communist domination.

          …and, it ain’t like the usa has treated sundry Treaties as sacrosanct, of late,lol.

      2. David

        Yes, as I said above, regulations are just the practical detail of Treaty implementation, and they can’t commit states to doing anything more than they have already signed up to in the Treaty, just modify the way they do it. Likewise, they can’t give the WHO powers it doesn’t already have. The question of whether a new document is needed, whether it should be a Treaty as such, a Convention (essentially the same thing) a set of guidelines or best practices, all that has to be discussed and agreed at a later date. It’s important to keep these things separate.

  8. John Zelnicker

    Thank you, Lambert, for a great analysis.

    I, too, am very concerned about how this will work out. Among my concerns is the fact that Bill Gates is the second largest contributor to the WHO, behind only the US and ahead of the UK.

    Ol’ Billy Boy seems to think he has all the best ideas of how to promote global health, not just through the WHO, but through other programs funded by his foundation. Like so many other wealthy elites, he thinks that because he made a ton of money he knows best about all kinds of things. He doesn’t, they don’t.

    Russell Brand had a segment on this topic a few days ago that I think is worth watching.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oo7kfZ7DywA (12:54)

    1. Lambert Strether Post author

      Russell Brand reading the Torygraph is a turn-up for the books. Though I grant similar dynamics apply here.

      Not sure how “less regulation” is an answer to pandemics, unless you’re a “Let ‘er rip” loon.

      1. John Zelnicker

        My take is that it’s the type of regulation being considered that Brand sees as the problem.

  9. lambert strether

    Adding, on the tweet that starts the post: I can’t quite tell, but there may be one person wearing an N95: The woman. Naturally.

  10. Minnesota RN

    John Z.–

    Thank you, John Z, so much for link to this Russell Brand speech. It is one of his best, in my opinion. He makes the same points as

    It saddened me to read the sneering remarks about Tucker Carlson from fellow readers. In his favor he does interview Tulsi Gabbard, Glenn Greenwald, Jimmy Dore and family of Julian Assange. He isoutspoken about Assange saying he is guilty only of humiliatingthe powerful, and that he should go free. He is biased against war. Where do the sanctimonious intellectuals stand on war? On Assange? I thought so.

    Glenn Loury and John McWhorter, otherwise thoughtful men, debate whether they should
    gambel being interviewed by Carlson because of the slime
    the Dems have spread about him. For heaven’s sake, gird up
    your loins, guys-speak the truth as you see it. Such cowardice
    and complete and utter lack of independent thought among the
    the so-called liberals. Appalling.

      1. John Zelnicker

        I’ve been watching a bunch of Brand’s videos lately and he seems to be pretty careful about the details, although a lot of his analysis is from a 30,000 foot level.

        To the extent that he doesn’t fact-check his sources, he is at risk of repeating the wrong details, but I haven’t heard anything I know is egregiously wrong. Of course I’m basing my opinion on the great analysis and fact-checking I get here at NC.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      The only way a climate scientist could possibly “debate” with Carlson is to be prepared to say: ” I don’t discuss facts with liars” and then go silent and let Carlson deal with the minutes of dead-air TV that follow.

      I’ve seen Carlson denialize global warming. He is just as dishonest as Rush Limbaugh and a lot more clever at it.

      That he will interview some of the people you mention is just the cover he creates to lend the air of versimilitude to his Billo Reilly ” man of the people” schtick.

    2. norm de plume

      I agree Minnesota.

      Carlson has been closer to the best position on major issues over the last year or two than any half dozen pundits in the MSM combined. And he talks to everyone, people the MSM either carefully avoid or simply ‘fly over’. I have avoided him with a barge-pole for over 20 years but not any more. God, I found myself watching Mark effing Steyn the other week! These are generally links from tweets on blogs. It is the absence of mainstream venues for information from all sides that is driving the relative success of these formerly marginal figures, along with their capacity to completely oppose the groupthink du jour.

      Carlson elides and omits and exaggerates as Lambert forensically establishes above, but he is far less guilty IMO of these sins than the MSM, the utter failure of which for two years has provided an opening for people like him to gain traction. Not to mention the fact that many redoubts of alternative common sense on the media fringe have been harassed, banned, deplatformed and de-financialised and you get some sense of why many people are searching for sources and interpreters they can trust. They may place their trust in the ‘wrong’ people, but can you blame them, especially when there is no decent alternative on offer? The choices are worse than limited, they are prescribed.

      The disillusion runs wide as well deep; my new PM’s party won last week with their primary vote at something less than a third of all cast. I have in recent conversations with generally apolitical friends and family members been struck by the new note of foreboding in their talk. Anger too, at the graft, cowardice and incompetence cocktail we seem destined to consume forever. There is a distinct lack of trust in once hallowed institutions generally.

      Carlson understands this, Brand likewise; the MSM do not. They embody it.

  11. Samuel Conner

    I imagine that for TC, “Marxist” has connotations of Soviet totalitarianism and the Gulag for political dissenters, and active use of sovereign power to kill the nation’s own citizens.

    TC evidently prefers neoliberal US-style sovereignty, in which citizen mass mortality is accomplished more subtly, through means that are more passive than active.

  12. ArkansasAngie

    Now or Later, I would NOT give any non-USA agency/government/organization/group (etc) any power to control how we in this country react to any emergency including health (pandemic). Period. You want to have a document that people can read. Have it. Have a document that says you gotta do this that or another … nope.

      1. ArkansasAngie

        I suspect that any pandemic information the US Government wants to keep secret, it will. I suspect that that is true for essentially all governments. A WHO Treaty won’t make any country do anything other than what they want to do. And thus … its real threat … use as a club to make its citizen do what they want them to do that that same citizen might not want to.

        The devil … errrr .. uhhhh … WHO made me do it.

      2. pjay

        We have a long postwar history of “globalist” institutions that have supposedly been established for the good of the “people” in the name of “cosmopolitan humanitarianism” (or some such ideal), but that in reality have been dominated and used as weapons by the US and its client states in its own interests. As has been discussed many times at NC, the WHO is no exception. Based on nearly every historical example I can think of, the US government would:

        (1) Ignore any rule or regulation it wants to if it feels like it.

        (2) Use such rules and regulations to legitimate unpopular *domestic* policies, such as those related to national security and surveillance.

        (3) Use such rules and regulations in hybrid warfare against “unfriendly” nations (for some reason China comes to mind here).

        (4) Use its influence over funding and the Western education of its administrative personnel to infiltrate/dominate the institution and the implementation of such rules and regulations.

        To me, the idea that such an international institution could force the US to do anything it didn’t want to do is fantasy. We would never sign a treaty that could do so. On the other hand, we’ve been very successful in creating or co-opting such institutions to do *our* bidding.

        Conservatives might be wrong in seeing such “global” projects as some sort of international commie conspiracy. But their paranoia is not completely irrational.

      3. anon y'mouse

        what’s more interesting are the downstream automatic actions that are in place or could be put in place. could some formula or construction of these be used as sanctions are, now? could they be used to isolate, penalize and discipline certain countries? could they be used to establish sudden international controls that will disrupt people’s lives and livelihoods?

        i think the worry is that, for some nefarious or political reason, the WHO could through these alternate means decide or declare a pandemic was in process within a specific place and start rolling out whatever they have the authority to roll out internationally.

        think of that part of the equation being weaponized, and not the info sharing and then the concern might be more understandable.

        i’m always glad that NC is keeping its eyes open, but whenever concerns like this are summarily dismissed here it seems that lines are formed before we have enough real info or action to even evaluate what is or might be going on.

  13. lance ringquist

    you will have to give carlson a little understanding here. in no way do i totally agree with what he thinks might happen, its just that since 1993, nafta billy clinton did everything in his power to hamstring sovereignty, and turn the power to govern over to un-elected corporate creatures such as the W.T.O..

    if it was not the W.T.O., then he made sure that under any free trade agreement, representives of government and civil society had no seat at the table as the new governing architicture of a country was being handed over to corporations.

    so for me, if a free trader is for it, i’m agin’it. that might be the reasoning carlson is using. those so called agreements and treaties can be amened quickly in the dark, by the anti-democratic forces that populate the free traders.

    look at soveriengty, nationalism, protectionism this way, its a solid high rock cliff, all over that cliff face you will see 1000’s of scurrying parsites with hammers and cheisils, even crow bars chipping away at the rock, trying to pry open a chasm, so that the flooding of a civil society can begin.

    so today a lot of people are gun shy at anything a free trader does. even the smallest of initiatives may hide a hammer and crow bar.

  14. Savita

    I was hoping this article was to be a really specific dissection of the situation with the WHO and the IHR but it appears to be mostly about someone named Tucker Carlson who, based on the snark, is someone I should avoid listening to. Being in Australia, fortunately I have never been exposed to him – we don’t know who he is, here. My initial enthusiasm about forwarding the article to groups and colleagues internationally were quickly annulled when I realised they too would stumble over the US domestic media references, eyes glazing over. I can get some, some, bit of information about the WHO and IHR concerns, from the article, but not much I confidently feel informs my perspective one way or another. Context and relevance on that singular topic is really hard to glean out. I can see Lambert there are claims you are not taking seriously. But whether that makes the alleged Pandemic Treaty and IHR changes any less of a concern, from your article I can’t be sure. The purpose seems to more about stamping down lazy reporting by a personality-cult. Thanks as always for your sharing. I look forward to the superb analytical skills of Lambert and Yves in a future post, focusing on the claims about WHO and IHR that are disturbing to us.

  15. drumlin woodchuckles

    Here is a very funny ad by some people who think they understand the Fox News audience. If they are correct in their belief, they will sell a lot of these “Let’s go Brandon” mugs that they are selling. And lets remember that the Fox News audience was nurtured and perfected into its present shape by Tucker Carlson, among others.

    Here is the link to the ad.

    1. drumlin woodchuckles

      Well, that sure isn’t the ad I thought I linked to. And I haven’t been able to find it now.
      So, apologies for that not working out.

      But as part of the failed process of hunting for it, I found this 7 second little micro-video raising questions about the coherency of Biden’s claim to consider White supremacy to be a ” poison”.

      ( If this one doesn’t work either, I will apologise for this one too, and stop trusting You Tube search addresses to work at all).

Comments are closed.