Trump Formally Notifies WHO That U.S. Will Be Withdrawing In July 2021

(┬áPresident Donald Trump wasn’t just bluffing when he announced in May that he might consider withdrawing the United States from the World Health Organization.

The U.S. sent formal notification to the United Nations that it would be withdrawing from the WHO. The move would become effective on July 6, 2021.

A 1948 resolution passed by Congress allows the U.S. to withdrawal from the WHO as long as it gives the organization a year’s notice of the intention and pays all of its outstanding dues. The U.S. currently owes the WHO $203 million in outstanding dues from 2020 and prior years.

The U.S. is by far the largest funder of the WHO. It contributes roughly $426 million per year to the organization.

Trump announced back in May that the U.S. would give the WHO 30 days to address concerns America has about the organization. The Trump administration has been very critical of the WHO’s apparent favoritism showed to China, specifically in regard to the coronavirus pandemic.

This announcement has predictably garnered backlash from Democrats and those who oppose Trump. His presumptive Democratic challenger in the presidential election, Joe Biden, said he would overturn this decision if he were elected in November. On Tuesday, Biden said on Twitter:

“Americans are safer when America is engaged in strengthening global health. One my first day as President, I will rejoin the WHO and restore our leadership on the world stage.”

This piggybacks on comments Biden made about the WHO in late June:

“We must immediately restore our relationship with the World Health Organization. For all its shortcomings and missteps around COVID-19, this is why the WHO was created. It is essential to coordinating a global response during a pandemic, and the United States should be leading the way.”

Many health experts are concerned that the WHO could be in serious economic trouble if the United States does indeed pull out of the organization. They are worried that this, then, could create a lot of instability in health initiatives such as the polio eradication program, and the system it created for reporting outbreaks of dangerous infectious diseases.

Some 750 public health leaders have already signed a letter that asks Congress to block Trump’s withdrawal from the WHO, arguing he doesn’t have the authority to do so on his own.

One of the signees of the letter is the faculty director of Georgetown’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, Lawrence Gostin, who said the withdrawal is “ruinous” for the world and the United States. He continued:

“This is the end of an era of United States global health leadership.”

Jimmy Kolker, who served in the Obama administration at the Department of Health and Human Services as an assistant secretary for global affairs, said Trump’s promise to join other efforts for global health goals will make it hard to accomplish anything. He said:

“There will be no incentive to take U.S. needs into account. It will be much harder than some might assume to find alternate channels for us to engage in global health activities. Our investment will no longer leverage others’ and experts in other countries will have to diversify their partnerships away from the CDC, the NIH or USAID, as these may not be sustainable.”