CNN  |  January 30, 2021

The declaration gives the WHO “few surge powers and no funding,” according to Lawrence Gostin, a professor of public health law at Georgetown University and the director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Center on Public Health Law & Human Rights.

“The only power a declared emergency provides is to make ‘recommendations’ to governments. But most governments, especially in the US and Europe, almost universally failed to adhere to (WHO) recommendations,” Gostin said.

As the policy is written now, there are many downsides and disincentives for governments to provide public health information to the WHO and no real guaranteed upside, according to global health law expert Mara Pillinger.

“Governments tend to prefer that the WHO not call them out and issue this highest alarm, because it may not help them manage the outbreak, but could in fact make it harder for humanitarian supplies and assistance to get into the country,” said Pillinger, an associate in the Global Health Policy & Politics Initiative at the O’Neill Institute of National and Global Health Law at Georgetown. “And it can impose an economic cost.”

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