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The headquarters of the World Health Organization (WHO) stands on June 15, 2021 in Geneva, Switzerland. The organization has at times seen itself under an uncomfortable political spotlight during the coronavirus pandemic. Photo Credit: Sean Gallup/Getty Images

WASHINGTON, D.C. (LifeSiteNews) — A subcommittee of the U.S. House of Representatives last week addressed concerns about the World Health Organization’s transparency and its apparent “partiality” for the Chinese Communist Party. It also touched on ongoing worries about the preservation of national sovereignty in the context of the WHO’s global pandemic treaty and proposed health regulations, though the subcommittee’s treatment of the issue has been criticized for not going far enough.

Republican Rep. Brad Wenstrup of Ohio, chairman of the Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Pandemic, announced the hearing in a December 6 press release, arguing that the WHO had failed to prioritize “honesty, transparency, and the health of citizens worldwide” in its COVID-19 pandemic response, instead succumbing to “undue influence from the Chinese Communist Party.”

“When the WHO should have been conducting independent investigations into the origins of COVID-19 and presenting the global community with verified information to help keep them safe, we instead saw that they ignored some facts and parroted back statements that came from the Chinese Communist Party,” Rep. Wenstrup said, according to The Defender.

In the hearing, lawmakers spoke about preventing the “next pandemic” and the potential implementation of reforms within the WHO to ensure future preparedness.

Discussing proposed amendments to the WHO’s International Health Regulations (IHR) as well as the upcoming WHO pandemic accord, which is now in draft form but set to be completed for consideration at the 77th World Health Assembly in 2024, congressmen said that any new agreements with the global body must respect national sovereignty.

As LifeSiteNews has reported, critics of the treaty and IHR amendments have raised serious concerns about the provisions, including the impact of the globalized public health controls on the sovereignty of its 194 member nations. Last year, Florida Republican governor and 2024 GOP presidential candidate Ron DeSantis pushed back against the proposed treaty, arguing that “elites” had advocated for “pernicious policies” during the COVID-19 pandemic and that “there is no way” Florida “will ever support” the global accord. WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has argued that opposition to the treaty is based on “misinformation,” and that concerns about losing national sovereignty are “nonsense.”

READ: DeSantis rips World Health Organization power grab, says ‘no way’ Florida would support it

During the Wednesday subcommittee meeting, Loyce Pace, MPH, assistant secretary for global affairs at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), touted the United States’ involvement in the process alongside the WHO.

Pace emphasized the need for the “highest and best level of prevention, preparedness and response,” which he said was “one of the reasons that the U.S. actually took a leadership role in calling for the revisions of the International Health Regulations and introduced the original 13 or handful of amendments.”

For his part, Rep. Wenstrup said the amendments and WHO treaty “must not violate international sovereignty and they must hold China and others accountable” while also ensuring that “American interests are protected.”

“Further, any accord or treaty must be presented to Congress for approval,” he said.

Iowa Republican Rep. Marianette Miller-Meeks went a step further, arguing that the U.S. doesn’t just “want” respect for its sovereignty, it “demand[s]” it.

However, Meeks stopped short of calling for the U.S. to withdraw from the WHO, arguing that “it’s vital the United States and other member countries not let bad actors hijack the review process.”

The remarks made by legislators received pushback from an expert concerned about preserving medical freedom in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the potential for a future disease outbreak.

Valerie Borek, associate director and lead policy analyst for Stand for Health Freedom, argued that “the whole point of the process” of the IHR amendments “is to turn ‘non-binding’ options into obligations.”

As LifeSiteNews has reported, draft WHO documents released earlier this year appear to reaffirm national sovereignty during pandemics. And the left-wing Human Rights Watch has said (disapprovingly) that the current draft of the pandemic treaty says the WHO rules would be subject to national laws and that “parties appear to be merely ‘encouraged’ to ‘adopt policies, strategies and/or measures’ but not to ‘comply’ with specific ‘laws.’” 

However, lawmakers and others concerned about defending personal liberty argue that the WHO rules could still cede important decision-making authority over to the unelected WHO, calling for congressional review prior to adoption.

In Borek’s comments, she said the IHR “amendments could change the fundamental nature of the document, the relationship of the U.S. to other nations, dictate domestic spending and policy making, and potentially conflict with state police powers.”

“These amendments must be seen by Congress before the U.S. goes anywhere near adopting them,” she said.

The WHO is already facing serious pushback from those concerned about whether the new treaty will grant it heightened powers to control national policy in the event of future pandemics. 

As LifeSiteNews previously reported, Estonia has already rejected the proposed treaty and New Zealand is tapping the brakes over concerns for its national rights. Slovakian politicians have also spoken out against the treaty. 

READ: Slovakian politicians call out WHO Pandemic Treaty as ‘globalist’ effort to weaken nations

Erik Kaliňák, an adviser for newly elected Slovakian prime minister Robert Fico, said the WHO pandemic treaty was “another of the globalists’ efforts to weaken the power of nation-states and transfer competences and powers from the hands of politicians who answer to the citizens to the hands of officials elected by no one.”