15 April 2020

Labor is concerned by the United States Governments decision to suspend financial contributions to the World Health Organization.

While we recognise there is considerable room for improvement at the WHO, none of that improvement will happen by walking away or asking it to do more with less.

Now, more than ever, the world needs a strong, effective and well-resourced WHO.

And Australia needs a strong and effective WHO to help tackle the spread of COVID-19 in the developing countries of our region.

As with all United Nations organisations, the WHO is driven by Member States, and only as effective as shared international resolve.

As former Republican adviser and President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass, said today, the WHO

Is only what the major powers, including the US, allow it to be. It navigates a world of sovereign states.

Developed countries should not need to rely on the WHO for their domestic response to pandemics like COVID-19. But many of our closest neighbours cannot tackle this crisis without the WHO, and the world will not emerge from this crisis without it.

This is also a reminder for all countries that perceptions of national influence over international organisations diminish the standing and capacity of those organisations - to everyones detriment.

While we respect the right of all States to engage with international organisations on their own terms, the world needs more collective action and resolve to make the WHO better.