«The World Health Organisation (WHO) is failing in its duty to protect those populations who are victims of radioactive contamination.»

Importance of the WHO / IAEA Agreement in the subordination of the World Health Organization to the nuclear establishment.

The World Health Organization (WHO) signed the Agreement referred to as “WHA12-40″ with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on 28 May 1959.
When we were setting up our collective and in the years that followed, the denunciation of this Agreement was a central element of our demands. Indeed, we considered this Agreement to be the main reason why WHO is unable fulfill its mission on the health consequences of radioactivity. However, this Agreement has become the subject of much discussion among us and the part it plays in our ideas and actions, and the following lines explain why we are no longer asking for the revision of this agreement and consider that it cannot be said that this Agreement is what prevents the WHO from fulfilling its mission vis-à-vis the victims of radioactivity.
If we go back to the text of the agreement, we find what in particular we have been denouncing: “The International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization agree that, with a view to facilitating the effective attainment of the objectives set forth in their respective constitutional instruments, within the general framework established by the Charter of the United Nations, they will act in close co-operation with each other and will consult each other regularly in regard to matters of common interest.”
“Whenever either organization proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organization has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement.”

But what does the WHO say when asked about this agreement and its independence? On its website in February 2001:
“This commitment does not imply in any way the submission of one of the organizations to the authority of the other, challenging their independence and responsibilities within their respective constitutional mandates.”

Indeed, point 2 of Article 1 of that agreement states that:
“…it is recognized by the World Health Organization that the International Atomic Energy Agency has the primary responsibility for encouraging, assisting and co-ordinating research on, and development and practical application of, atomic energy for peaceful uses throughout the world” but that should be done “without prejudice to the right of the World Health Organization to concern itself with promoting, developing, assisting, and co-ordinating international health work, including research, in all its aspects.”

The last part of this sentence theoretically allows WHO to fulfill its mission as provided for in its constitution, defined in particular in Article 1: “The objective of the World Health Organization shall be the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”
Here we have an example of the kind of legal text which, as often, allows all possible interpretations. We also need to consider the ways and means by which WHO, since its inception, has managed the health problems related to radioactivity.

Whether during the Chernobyl disaster and then in Fukushima, but also in relation to all manner of nuclear issues, the evidence shows that WHO has not exhibited any autonomy of initiative or resources in radiation protection. It has to be said that it has clearly renounced its mission. It has been complicit in misinformation about nuclear energy in general and has abandoned the victims of radioactivity. Richard Horton, the editor of the medical journal “The Lancet”, says: “…when it comes to Chernobyl and Fukushima and the threat of radioactive contamination, the truth may not have been fully told. And WHO has a responsibility to get to that truth, however uncomfortable it might be for member-states or related agencies.”
(The Lancet – Vol 383 – 21 June 2014).

It should be noted that this Agreement formalizes the close links between a health promotion organization and another organization responsible for the development of civilian nuclear power, so it is legitimate to speak of conflicts of interest. And to go further, it is also legitimate to regard as a scandal the decision of the UN to have given the IAEA a “commercial” role that should in no case exist in one of its agencies … all the more so as the agencies are encouraged to work together. One can therefore understand why, beyond the formulation of the Agreement, cooperation between the two organizations is problematic.

But as mentioned above, whenever WHO or governments are questioned about this Agreement with the IAEA, the answer is the same and states that it is not a constraint that would prevent the WHO from doing its work. Our approaches have led to the same answers and therefore to the impasse of an endless debate that does nothing to advance the cause that is dear to us. Therefore, we have decided to stop fighting for the revision of the Agreement and to return to our primary concern, the fate of victims of radioactivity, by requiring WHO to pursue the truth about the dangers of nuclear power and to assist victims in accordance with its constitution. Yes, that is what we demand from the WHO, that it do its work independently, as stipulated in article 37 of its Constitution which states that:

“In the performance of their duties the Director-General and the staff shall not seek or receive instructions from any government or from any authority external to the Organization. They shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officers. Each Member of the Organization on its part undertakes to respect the exclusively international character of the Director-General and the staff and not to seek to influence them.”

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