Will WHO in future create worldwide applicable health law? | world governments

In previous blogposts (like this one) I was wondering whether the World Health Organization (WHO) evolves into a world government on health (just as FATF already sets global rules on fighting crime [1]). In November 2021 in a Dutch consultation a law was proposed to be amended and to impose fines for non-compliance with WHO resolutions (article).

Recently the Council of the European Union published a proposal for a health regulation [2] in which it refers to a WHO decision regarding an international binding ‘instrument’ (mark up by me):

(23) The decision taken by the World Health Assembly during its Special Session on 1  December 2021 is set to start a global process for a WHO convention, agreement or other international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. In  accordance with Council Decision (EU) 2022/451 26, the Union should engage with the  WHO and its Member States to develop a WHO convention, agreement or other  international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response. The Union will engage with the WHO and its Member States to develop a new legally binding  instrument that complements the IHR, thereby strengthening multilateralism and the  global health architecture. The Union should also support efforts to strengthen the  implementation of and compliance with the IHR.  

26 Council Decision (EU) 2022/451 of 3 March 2022 authorising the opening of negotiations on behalf of the European Union for an international agreement on pandemic prevention,  preparedness and response, as well as complementary amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) (OJ L 92, 21.3.2022, p. 1).


The Council speaks of a ‘legally binding instrument‘ that complements the International Health Regulations (IHR) that WHO adopted in 2005. In this way, WHO regulations can take on the character of a global law. IHR are mentioned often in the Council’s proposal.

Very interesting. When I have time I’ll try to find out if legal scholars have published on this.


NB 1 The health pandemic of Europe’s population becoming too obese and not moving enough does not seem to be an area of concern in the Council’s proposal.

NB 2 Data protection organisations should also show interest in this proposal for a regulation, as contact-tracing plays a central role, read for instance: “The capacity for contact tracing should be strengthened via the creation of an automated system, using modern technologies” and article 28 on setting up of messaging functionality allowing personal data, including contact and health data, to be communicated.


[1] The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) calls itselfthe global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog” that creates ‘standards’ but in reality is an undemocratic law maker.
[2] Proposal (pdf) of 7 October 2022 for a regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on serious cross-border threats to health and repealing Decision No 1082/2013/EU – Outcome of the European Parliament’s first reading (Strasbourg, 3 to 6 October 2022). Interinstitutional file: 2020/0322(COD)

Over Ellen Timmer

Weblog: https://ellentimmer.com/ ||| Microblog: https://mastodon.nl/@ellent ||| Motto: goede bedoelingen rechtvaardigen geen slechte regels
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