How to Keep the United States in the WHO: Immediate Withdrawal Would Be a Global Health and a Legal Disaster

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The same week that the United States passed the grim milestone of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19, President Donald Trump announced that the United States would withdraw from and end its funding for the World Health Organization (WHO). If carried out, especially in the middle of a pandemic, this move would mark one of the most ruinous presidential decisions of modern history—a blow to global health security and to the rule of law.

Fortunately, neither the U.S. Congress nor the U.S. courts need stand by: the president’s call reflects a misunderstanding of both the WHO and its limitations and his own authority to withdraw from it unilaterally. Congress should immediately hold hearings to clarify whether it is legal and wise to withdraw from the WHO, given the dire consequences for U.S. security and global health. And litigants should go to court to clarify that the president lacks the constitutional power he claims. As the novel coronavirus pandemic has made clear, public health is everyone’s problem.

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Foreign Affairs, June 5, 2020.