US Files Notice to Officially Withdraw From World Health Organization

By Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber
Zachary Stieber is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times based in Maryland. He covers U.S. and world news.
July 7, 2020Updated: July 9, 2020

The United States is officially withdrawing from the World Health Organization (WHO) amid lingering doubts about how the United Nations (UN) agency handled the emergence of the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

The Trump administration gave notice to the United Nations and Congress of the withdrawal, which will go into effect next year.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told reporters in Washington that the State Department submitted the notice after receiving guidance from President Donald Trump.

“The President has made very clear we are not going to underwrite an organization that has historically been incompetent and not performed its fundamental function,” Pompeo said.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres received notice from the United States about its withdrawal, a spokesman said.

Guterres is verifying whether the conditions for such a withdrawal are met, the spokesman said. Conditions include giving a one-year notice and fully meeting the payment of assessed financial obligations.

The Trump administration is working with Congress to get the money the U.S. owes to WHO, Pompeo said.

The withdrawal goes into effect July 6, 2021, a WHO spokesman told The Epoch Times.

WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus told reporters in May that he hoped the United States wouldn’t cut ties with the group.

Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), attends a news conference in Geneva, on June 25, 2020. (Denis Balibouse/Reuters)

He called America “a longstanding and generous friend to WHO,” adding, “We hope it will continue to be so.”

The United States was the group’s largest funder, regularly pouring hundreds of millions of dollars on an annual basis into the organization.

Trump, a Republican who is up for reelection in November, announced in May that the United States would formally terminate its relationship with WHO.

“We have detailed the reforms that it must take and have engaged with them directly but they have refused to act,” Trump said. “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 health needs.”

Other international health groups could receive the funding, an administration official told reporters in April.

Trump said last month that he wasn’t reconsidering his decision, calling the WHO “a disaster.”

A State Department spokesperson told the Associated Press that the U.S. would continue to seek reform of the WHO, but referred to Trump’s June 15 response when asked if the administration might change its mind.

trump in meeting
President Donald Trump participates in a meeting in Washington on June 26, 2020. (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

The formal withdrawal came after the WHO admitted CCP officials didn’t report the emergence of the new virus from China to officials at the organization.

Democrats and some Republicans opposed the plan to withdraw from the WHO.

“I disagree with the president’s decision,” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, said at the time. “Certainly, there needs to be a good, hard look at mistakes the World Health Organization might have made in connection with coronavirus, but the time to do that is after the crisis has been dealt with, not in the middle of it.”

Withdrawal could interfere with clinical trials for CCP virus vaccines, he said.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee concluded in a report released in June that the WHO “enabled the CCP coverup by failing to investigate and publicize reports conflicting with the official CCP, while at the same time praising the CCP’s response.”

But Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Texas), the committee’s ranking member, also argued against withdrawal. The United States can “affect more change within the organization as a member,” he said.

Democrats were quick to criticize the Trump administration on Tuesday.

“To call Trump’s response to COVID chaotic & incoherent doesn’t do it justice. This won’t protect American lives or interests — it leaves Americans sick & America alone,” Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, said in a social media statement.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) added: “With millions of lives at risk, the president is crippling the international effort to defeat the virus.”

Correction: A previous version of this story said that Doctors Without Borders could receive government funding. The group does not accept U.S. government funding. The Epoch Times regrets the error.