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Responding to President Joe Biden signing an executive order ceasing withdrawal from the World Health Organization (WHO), Interim Executive Director of Amnesty International USA Bob Goodfellow said: 

“Rejoining the WHO is a much-needed first step in restoring the United States’ cooperation with the international community and signaling its commitment to prioritizing international public health. Only if governments recognize their human rights obligations and work together can we get the COVID-19 pandemic under control and ensure that everyone can access health care.

“As the world continues to roll out COVID-19 vaccines, a united, coordinated global response to this pandemic is more needed than ever. The Biden administration must immediately move to support global initiatives that aim to ensure fair vaccine access for all countries, such as the WHO’s COVAX pillar. It is of the utmost importance that the Biden administration lead multilateral efforts to fight the pandemic and to support and fund global vaccine efforts.  

“Most importantly, the Biden administration must lead international efforts to prioritize vaccine distribution for those most at risk, regardless of the country they live in.  We urge the administration to implement a human rights-centered approach to the COVID-19 pandemic.” 

Background

The WHO is the primary international body with a mandate to support global public health. In addition to playing a key role in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, it implements numerous programs to prevent, control, and treat Ebola, measles, malaria, HIV and AIDS, and many other diseases. The U.S. is currently the WHO’s largest contributor.

Under President Trump, the U.S. withdrew from the WHO, the UN Human Rights Council, the UN cultural agency (UNESCO) and the global accord to tackle climate change.

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