United States President Donald Trump has formally notified the World Health Organization (WHO) that the USA will withdraw from the United Nations agency over the agency’s alleged ties to China, a move critics say will hamper the international fight against the Covid-19 pandemic and sap the U.S. of global influence.
The U.S. State Department sent notice to the U.N. on July 6 it would end its 72-year-old membership in the WHO.
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The administration has already begun looking for other channels to spend the $450m it pays annually in WHO membership dues and voluntary contributions.
Jeff Merkley, the top Democrat on the Senate foreign relations subcommittee that oversees multilateral institutions, said the move strengthened Chinese leadership and power, both within the WHO and more broadly within the international community. He added:
Cutting the United States out of the WHO in the middle of the worst global pandemic in a century makes Americans more vulnerable. By abandoning the efforts to control the virus abroad, we’re ensuring that far more Americans will get sick, either through foreign travellers coming to the US or through Americans travelling abroad.
Republican members of Congress have urged Trump to keep the US inside the WHO while no US ally has supported the withdrawal with the exception of the Brazilian president, Jair Bolsonaro, who confirmed he had tested positive for coronavirus on Tuesday.
Joe Biden, Trump’s Democratic challenger for the presidency, said he would return the US to the WHO once elected.