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by Ruaraidh Gilmour
05 March 2024
Gordon Brown to warn against ‘fake news’ campaigns aimed at stopping WHO treaty

Former prime minister Gordon Brown | Alamy

Gordon Brown to warn against ‘fake news’ campaigns aimed at stopping WHO treaty

Gordon Brown will warn that a crucial World Health Organisation (WHO) treaty to prepare the world for the next pandemic is being put at risk by “fake news” campaigns.   

The former prime minister is set to speak at an event at the University of Glasgow later today alongside the WHO’s director general Dr Tedros Ghebreyesus, who will receive an honorary degree. 

The WHO is seeking to have all 194 of its member countries sign a new Global Pandemic Accord in May to ensure there is a united response if and when another pandemic occurs. 

Brown, who was prime minister during the swine flu pandemic and is a global WHO ambassador, will warn the plan is at risk of being blocked by “misinformation campaigns” published through social media outlets aimed at stopping the passage of the accord. 

Some online posts claim that the treaty will strip nations of their right to deal with national health crises or would permit the WHO to impose lockdowns. However, experts and fact-check services maintain that these claims will not permit the WHO to override domestic policy decisions. 

Since December 2021, the WHO has been working towards an accord to prepare for and stem any new pandemic threat, including by achieving equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. 

In his speech, Brown will say: “More than two years ago after the loss of lives during covid everyone agreed a Global Pandemic Accord, a new international instrument on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response, was essential. 

“Everyone agreed that no one is safe anywhere until everyone is safe everywhere. 

“The 194 countries who are members of the World Health Organisation decided in December 2021 to work towards an accord to work together to prepare for and stem any new pandemic threat, including by achieving equitable access to vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics. 

“Establishing a strong global pact on pandemics is, in my view, essential to protect future generations from a repeat of the millions of deaths and the social and economic devastation which resulted from a lack of collaboration during the Covid-19 pandemic.” 

“The accord is due to be agreed at the World Health Assembly in May but now the Accord is being put at risk by a misinformation campaign through social media outlets that is falsely accusing the WHO. 

“Among the falsehoods circulating are allegations that the WHO will take away the national sovereignty of countries; that it wants the power to forcibly vaccinate people; intends surveillance of people’s movements through digital passports; and that under the accord, will have the ability to deploy a global police force of armed troops to enforce mandatory vaccinations and lockdowns. 

“All of these claims are wholly false, and governments must work to disavow them with clear facts. 

“No country will cede any sovereignty, and no country will see their national laws set aside. 

“It is time for countries to expose fake news disinformation campaigns by conspiracy theorists to torpedo a much-needed accord. 

“This will be a test of our ability as a global community to resist the fragmentation of our world and instead cooperate on global problems that need global solutions... 

“I want to urge governments round the world to support his determined and welcome efforts to secure the accord by May. 

“It is time to rise for all of us to rise to this global challenge.” 

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