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Sofia Ahmed
By Sofia Ahmed May 15, 2024

The World Health Organization’s pandemic plan won’t end free speech

If Your Time is short

  • A draft of the World Health Organization’s pandemic accord says that the document will be used with respect to individual’s personal freedoms. 

  • An expert told PolitiFact that the accord could neither change nor supersede the U.S. Constitution. 

As the world emerged from a global pandemic, the World Health Organization began drafting a legal agreement to respond to future pandemics. Since then, the document has been a target of misinformation.

The WHO’s pandemic prevention, preparedness and response accord is a legal agreement the organization’s 194 member states, including the U.S., are negotiating to help prevent and better prepare for future pandemics. 

In a clip from former Fox News anchor Tucker Carlson’s web show, author Bret Weinstein warned the WHO’s actions with regard to the accord could strip Americans of their constitutionally protected rights to free speech.

"So, you’re saying that an international health organization could just end the First Amendment?" Carlson asked Weinstein in the clip, which circulated Jan. 28 in an Instagram video and was attracting comments and interactions in late April.

"The ability to do it is currently under discussion at the international level," replied Weinstein, whose COVID-19 claims PolitiFact has previously fact-checked. 

The Instagram post was flagged as part of Meta’s efforts to combat false news and misinformation on its News Feed. (Read more about our partnership with Meta, which owns Facebook and Instagram.)

The clip came from a video published Jan. 5 on the subscription-based Tucker Carlson Network website. The network also shared a longer clip of this portion of the video on its YouTube page.

The longer version shows a fuller exchange:

Carlson: "So, you’re saying that an international health organization could just end the First Amendment?"

Weinstein: "Yes, and I know it sounds preposterous — "

Carlson: "It does not sound preposterous."

Weinstein: "The ability to do it is currently under discussion at the international level."

Weinstein later said the WHO’s pandemic preparedness plan will be used to silence podcasters and eliminate "national and personal sovereignty."

Weinstein did not respond to PolitiFact’s request for comment.

But his assertion that the WHO’s work on this plan could eliminate Americans’ free speech  protections is contradicted by the U.S. Constitution and the draft accord itself. 

A March 28 WHO press release said the pandemic agreement’s draft will continue to be refined ahead of the World Health Assembly, set for May 27 to June 1 in Geneva, Switzerland.

An April draft of the plan explicitly stated that the plan’s implementation will be with "full respect for the dignity, human rights and fundamental freedoms of persons" and that states have the sovereign right" to "adopt, legislate and implement legislation." 

World Health Organization information also details that the governments themselves would determine the accord, with member states deciding the terms. 

Lawrence Gostin, director of Georgetown University’s O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law, told PolitiFact that the pandemic accord contains no provision that would override any U.S. law.

"The Pandemic Agreement would not control what could or could not be written or said in the United States," Gostin said. "The regulation of speech, including online content, is entirely within the realm of the US Congress." He added that there is a domestic process for amending the constitution. 

The process of changing the U.S. Constitution is lengthy. To eliminate the First Amendment, Congress would have to propose the change with a majority vote in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. An amendment can also be proposed during a constitutional convention called for by two-thirds of the state legislatures. For the amendment to be adopted, three-fourths of the states in the U.S would have to ratify it. 

We rate the claim that the World Health Organization could "end the first amendment" False. 

Our Sources

Instagram video (archived), Jan. 28, 2024

PolitiFact, No sign that the COVID-19 vaccines’ spike protein is toxic or ‘cytotoxic’, June 16, 2021

PolitiFact, COVID-19 vaccines saved lives, did not cause 17 million deaths, Jan. 17, 2024

YouTube, Big Pharma HATES these podcasts. Here’s Why., Jan. 7, 2024

World Health Organization, Proposal for the WHO Pandemic Agreement, April 22, 2024,

World Health Organization, Pandemic prevention, preparedness and response accord, June 28, 2023

PolitiFact, WHO pandemic accord doesn’t replace U.S. sovereignty, Feb. 21, 2023

PolitiFact, Explaining Ron DeSantis’ effort to call a convention of states and amend the US Constitution, Feb. 1, 2024

Tucker Carlson Network, The Tucker Carlson Encounter: Bret Weinstein, Jan. 5, 2024

World Health Organization, Governments agree to continue their steady progress on proposed pandemic agreement ahead of the World Health Assembly, May 10, 2024

World Health Organization, WHO Member States agree to resume negotiations aimed at finalizing the world’s first pandemic agreement, March 28, 2024

National Archives, Constitutional Amendment Process, accessed May 13, 2024

Email interview, Lawrence Gostin, Professor of Global Health Law, Georgetown Law School, May 13, 2024

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The World Health Organization’s pandemic plan won’t end free speech

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