On 22 November, 11 Members of the Estonian Parliament wrote a letter to the World Health Organisation (“WHO”) to reject the proposed international agreement on pandemic prevention preparedness and response – also known as the “Pandemic Treaty” or “Pandemic Accord”. The letter also rejects the amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) (“IHR”).
Last month we published an article explaining that in May 2022 the World Health Assembly (“WHA”) quietly agreed to reduce the period during which nations have to opt out of future amendments to the International Health Regulations. For nations to retain the longer 18-month period previously allowed for nations to opt-out, countries need to send WHO a short note that they are opting out of the amendments decided by the WHA in 2022 before 1 December 2023.
The letter from the Estonian MPs is dated 22 November 2023, 8 days before the 1 December deadline. The MPs haven’t simply opted out of the amendments decided by the WHA in 2022, they have gone much further and rejected both the proposed Pandemic Treaty and the IHR amendments in their entirety as well as additional funding to WHO.
Kalle Grünthal, one of the MPs who signed the letter, broke the news on Facebook. The letter begins:
Hereby, the Republic of Estonia, based on Article 22 of the Statute of the World Health Organisation, declares that it rejects and does not consent to the international agreement on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response as well as complementary amendments to the International Health Regulations (2005) and to improving the sustainability of WHO funding.Estonia Said No to the Implementation of Forcing Measures, Kalle Grünthal on Facebook, 23 November 2023
You can read the full letter in the image at the end of this article.
As Estonian alternative media site Telegram.ee noted, this contradicts a decision made early last year. On 4 March 2022, the Estonian European Union Affairs Committee (“EUAC”) held a meeting to vote on whether the European Commission was authorised to negotiate WHO’s two instruments on behalf of Estonia.
The EUAC is a standing committee of the Parliament of Estonia (the Riigikogu) and has a deciding and coordinating role on issues relating to the European Union. The Estonian government is bound by EUAC’s decisions and uses these decisions in its discussions in Europe. If the Government does not follow EUAC’s decisions then it must provide EUAC with the reasons for not doing so.
At the March 2022 meeting, three members of the EUAC voted against and nine voted in favour of giving the European Commission the authority to open negotiations on a Pandemic Treaty, IHR amendments and improving the sustainability of WHO funding on behalf of the Republic of Estonia.
Now the Parliament of Estonia has spoken. Below is a copy of the letter from the parliamentarians to WHO rejecting its Pandemic Treaty and IHR amendments.