The United Nations World Health Organization (WHO) will be meeting behind closed doors next month to push more and higher taxes around the world, sparking outrage from journalists, stakeholders, taxpayers, and more. Under the guise of reducing tobacco consumption and raising money for governments, the controversial global “health” outfit's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is also concocting broad policy measures having to do with border security, trade, “public health,” and more. And according to experts, some of those policy prescriptions, ironically, contribute to furthering illicit trade and, by extension, end up helping to fund terrorism. Others will fuel increased tobacco use, experts said.
The FCTC will be meeting next month in New Delhi, India, to formulate its policy agenda for controlling human behavior under the guise of “health.” Perhaps to avoid the international scandal associated with its 2012 and 2014 meetings, when journalists were forcibly blocked and removed from the proceedings, the UN outfit has made clear in advance that journalists, the public, the affected parties — pretty much everyone — is entirely unwelcome. That is despite the fact that the scheming is funded by taxpayers, and the fact that the policy demands coming out of the meeting will have global implications. The obsessive and paranoid secrecy, though, is not surprising, especially considering that the WHO is controlled by unfree governments and is actually led by Communist Chinese apparatchik Margaret Chan.
At the top of the agenda for this year's WHO FCTC meeting, as usual with anything related to the UN, is the promotion of more and higher taxes around the world. Critics of the scheme, though, blasted the bureaucracy and its agenda from all angles. “It demands high taxes since these lower smoking, but the result is lots of illicit trade as people try to bypass tax,” explained economist Roger Bate, a specialist in international health policy and a visiting scholar at the non-profit American Enterprise Institute who recently released a report on how the WHO's tobacco schemes are driving illegal trade. “Yet it can't abide the cigarette companies so won't work with them to lower smuggled products, and won't even work with Interpol since it has received funds from tobacco companies.”
All of that leads to further problems, Bate said, including some extremely serious ones that the WHO refuses to correct or even acknowledge. “As a result illicit tobacco flourishes, which benefits organized crime and terror groups,” he said, adding that, “ironically, some of the products that make the market are worse for you (higher tar etc.) and without the correct warning labels.” Still, the UN WHO “won't change tack because that would admit it was doing something wrong.”
Bate also criticized the WHO's antics more broadly. “Let's put it this way, health folks, notably at WHO, see the world through a 'public' health lens, and praise and support those who it sees as allies, regardless of how appalling they may be,” he continued. “So it supports the government of Turkmenistan because it is tough on smoking regardless of any lack of freedom the Turkmenistan government may impose more broadly.” Indeed, the brutal dictator of Turkmenistan, widely condemned around the world, even got a WHO award for his WHO-inspired tobacco tyranny.
The problem appears to be systemic. “WHO is also a very statist organization, preferring public to private options in every aspect of healthcare,” Bate added. “Those biases explain a lot of what it does and does not do.”
Meanwhile, other WHO FCTC schemes are likely to fuel, ironically enough, increased tobacco use. Consider that even as it wages a secretive global jihad on tobacco and smokers, the WHO is also simultaneously working to limit access to new technologies such as so-called electronic cigarettes that have reportedly helped millions of people quit using tobacco. The WHO bureaucracy even released a report last month that demands heavy-handed government regulation and control over such technologies — even though evidence indicates that “vaping” with e-cigs is far, far safer than tobacco use.
The WHO meddling is a threat to humanity and health, according to Julian Morris, vice president of research at libertarian-oriented Reason Foundation who released a brief on the WHO's demands. “The WHO’s opposition to tobacco harm-reduction is dishonest and threatens public health,” Morris explained, adding that the WHO FTCT violates all the precepts of good governance, especially as it relates to transparency. “Moreover, there is essentially no participation by representatives of many affected groups, including users of tobacco and vape products, vendors, and farmers.” He added that the UN's bureaucracy must, at a minimum, open itself and its secretive meetings up to journalists. Even better would be to live-stream the proceedings.
Other experts and critics also blasted the WHO's FTCT agenda and secrecy. Former Australian Labor Minister Gary Johns, for example, a member of the Australian Prime Minister's Community Business Partnership and a director of the Australian Institute for Progress, suggested that the secrecy and the exclusion of so many important players — not to mention the public and the media — was a big part of what allows the absurdity to flourish at the global bureaucracy.
“These meetings should be held in a transparent fashion and in public view,” he said. “The FCTC Secretariat does not have the expertise or resources to deal with two big challenges of the Convention: finding a path for reduced harm alternatives to smoking, and tackling illicit trade in tobacco. As long as the sole strategy is to reduce supply and demand without considering every perspective, there will be little progress. As a taxpayer in Australia, my taxes support the Convention, but it is not certain that I would be allowed to observe the proceedings, such is the secrecy surrounding the Convention. All interested parties must be allowed to observe COP 7 proceedings, as is standard procedure with other United Nations conferences.”
In another report, The World Health Organization in Intensive Care, the Taxpayers Protection Alliance watchdog group highlights the gargantuan amount of tax money being funneled to “the anti-freedom, anti-intellectual property activities” of the UN and WHO. From an American perspective, in particular, that is crazy.
“Taxpayers shouldn’t be funding activities that promote values and actions inconsistent with the principles of the United States,” said TPA President David Williams in a statement released with the report. “Barring reporters from conferences that dictate policy, promoting directives that infringe on intellectual property, and a host of other actions should give taxpayers pause when they find out how much money they are giving to prop-up these global organizations.”
Williams also suggested Americans' elected representatives should do their jobs and protect U.S. taxpayers from having to fund the anti-freedom extremism of these global bureaucratic monsters. “Congress needs to conduct proper oversight,” he said. “Taxpayer money is being funneled to the UN and WHO to undermine American interests. Congress needs to care that they ban media, and harm intellectual property rights.”
The TPA report also noted that 142 out of 180 FCTC member governments and dictatorships, almost 80 percent of them, had not paid all their bills to the global bureaucracy, including Britain, Germany, and France. As part of what TPA called “wider fraud allegations” against WHO, the FCTC has also come under fire for banning journalists, malpractice, stifling debate, lacking transparency and being profligate with public money. These criticisms are part of wider fraud allegations against the WHO.
“It is shocking how many of these countries still refuse to pay their subscriptions,” TPA chief Williams said. “We suspect that this is indicative of wider concern about the way the WHO operates. It is essential that during the election campaign for the next Director-General of WHO (which has just started) that the candidates face up to the very serious questions about transparency, funding, accountability and malpractice, which the WHO must answer. The world’s taxpayers deserve clear answers, not obfuscation.”
In a brilliant analysis of the broader problem published by The American Spectator, Jay Homnick ridicules the WHO and its anti-freedom scheming. However, he also highlights the massive danger it and similar international "health" schemes represent to humanity and human liberty. “The post-Communist quest for world domination runs straight through 'health care,'” he explained. “Step one, health care is a human right. Step two, the government provides health care. Step three, every part of human behavior is subsumed under preventive health care. Step four, the government as health care payer and provider has the moral right – nay, obligation – to control all aspects of human behavior.” Communists, socialists, and globalists have long understood that.
The real solution, then, is to get rid of the whole bureaucracy, Homnick goes on to suggest. “WHO is a proxy for government, a sort of super-government, and they are trying to move all this power and control up one level, away from national government to their brand of supranational dominion,” he explained. “We have enough trouble trying to keep national government honest, but at least it is somewhat answerable to the electoral process. Handing power to these guys puts citizens’ lives in the hands of nameless faceless bureaucrats, unelected and unaccountable.”
“The bottom line is simple,” he concluded. “In the age of Brexit, it is time to exit the whole Who’s Who of the WHO ilk. Authority needs to be localized to the extent possible. Certainly the notion of security policy falling into the hands of a medical bureaucracy is absolutely intolerable.”
Yet the UN and WHO continue waging relentless war on freedom, markets, sovereignty, choice, and more. Already this month, the rogue UN bureaucracy demanded in a new report that government inflict worldwide taxes on sugary drinks to allegedly fight obesity. “We are now in a place where we can say there is enough evidence to move on this and we encourage countries to implement effective tax on sugar-sweetened beverages to prevent obesity,” said WHO official Temo Waqanivalu. Ultra-left American gun-control fanatic Michael Bloomberg, who never met a Big Brother policy he did not want to impose on you, joined with WHO to promote the global nanny-state agenda.
Of course, many of the critics and experts outraged by the WHO's latest antics recommend various measures to increase transparency, accountability, and common-sense at the UN agency. The best and easiest solution, though, would be for the United States and other civilized governments to withdraw from the WHO and the entire UN. There is absolutely no legitimate reason why the dictators club that is the UN should have any influence over U.S. policy. As a free and self-governing people, Americans and their elected representatives are perfectly capable of creating laws and policies without help from the Castros, the Kim Jong Uns, and the Robert Mugabes of the world.
Congress should pursue an “Amexit” from the UN and the WHO as quickly as possible. And in the meantime, cutting off all U.S. taxpayer funding for the UN and all of its agencies would be a good start.
Photo: Logo at World Health Organization heaquarters in Geneva
Full disclosure: The author owns a few shares of tobacco companies and is a former smoker.