US Democratic challenger Joe Biden has said he will reverse President Donald Trump’s move to withdraw from the World Health Organization (WHO) “on the first day” if he wins the November election.
Trump formally began the withdrawal on Tuesday after signaling the move in May. He said the WHO was under the control of China during the coronavirus crisis.
The process could take at least a year.
Trump currently follows Biden in the race for the presidency by a margin of more than 10 percentage points.
Analysts have called for caution in interpreting the polls, but Biden’s leadership is far greater than that of 2016’s Trump opponent, Hillary Clinton, at the same point in the campaign.
- Trump’s claims against WHO verified
- Battle between the United States and China over coronavirus
Many voters are concerned about the management of the pandemic and its economic consequences.
There have been nearly three million confirmed cases of the virus in the US, and more than 130,000 deaths, far more than in any other country. Meanwhile, tens of millions have lost their jobs.
What did Mr. Biden and others say?
In a tweet Tuesday night, Biden said the United States would be better off working within the international community on global health issues.
“Americans are safer when the United States is committed to strengthening global health,” he said.
“On my first day as president, I will meet @WHO and reestablish our leadership on the world stage.”
Democrats in Congress confirmed that the legislature had been notified of the president’s decision.
Robert Menendez, the top Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, wrote on Twitter: “Congress received a notification that POTUS officially withdrew the United States from WHO in the midst of a pandemic.
“It leaves the Americans sick and the United States alone.”
China also regretted Trump’s move, saying it would affect poorer countries more.
“This decision by the United States undermines international efforts and will have serious implications, especially for developing countries that urgently need international support,” said Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian.
“We urge the United States to fulfill its international responsibilities and obligations and show the responsibility of a great country.”
What led to this movement?
Explaining the decision, a senior US administration official told CBS News that Washington had detailed and directly committed to the reforms he wanted WHO to make, but that WHO had refused to act.
“Because they have not carried out the requested and much-needed reforms, today we will end our relationship,“The official was quoted as saying.
Trump first announced in April that he was going to stop US funding for the WHO unless he made “substantial improvements” within 30 days.
Then, in late May, he said the United States “will end our relationship with the World Health Organization and direct those funds” to other global public health charities.
“The world is now suffering as a result of the Chinese government’s misconduct,” he said, adding that China had “instigated a global pandemic.”
The president accused China of pressuring the WHO to “deceive the world” about the virus, without giving evidence of its accusations.
“China has full control over the World Health Organization,” said the president.
What will be the consequences?
The United States is the largest individual contributor to the global health agency, with more than $ 400 million (£ 324 million; € 360 million) in 2019, about 15% of its total budget.
According to a congressional resolution in 1948, the US can withdraw, but must give one year advance notice and must pay outstanding fees, although it is unclear what Trump’s opinion is on that.
The withdrawal will question the financial viability of WHO and the future of its many programs to promote health care and fight disease.
Other countries, including Germany and the United Kingdom, have said they have no intention of withdrawing funds from WHO, which is coordinating a global initiative to develop a vaccine against Covid-19.
What is WHO and who finances it?
- Founded in 1948 and based in Geneva, Switzerland, it is the UN agency responsible for global public health.
- It has 194 member states and its objective is “to promote health, keep the world safe and serve the vulnerable”
- Involved in vaccination campaigns, health emergencies and support countries in primary care.
- Funded by a combination of membership fees based on wealth and population and voluntary contributions.