President Donald Trump Terminates US Partnership with the World Health Organization

Trump explicates his decision to remove the US from the W.H.O. because of their “China-centric” response to the Coronavirus.

Trump announced the US plans to defund the World Heath Organization in a press conference Friday, May 29th, 2020.

On Friday, the United States’ President Trump declared the end of the US involvement in the World Health Organization (W.H.O.) due to the organization’s alleged favoritism towards China. During an ongoing trade war against China and facing an unprecedented pandemic, many have questioned Trump’s decision to remove the US from an international organization that has historically managed and aided issues of international health, notably demonstrated through the creation of an Ebola vaccine. Trump’s explanation for his decision to terminate the US relationship with the W.H.O. reveals his prioritization of the US economy within his isolationist, MAGA, domestic agenda.

“China has total control over the World Health Organization despite only paying $40 million per year compared to what the United States has been paying, which is approximately $450 million a year,” Trump said.

The United States joined the W.H.O. immediately following its creation in 1948, representing one of the 194 members within the United Nation’s special agency that works to direct international health through the collaboration between international states to generate effective responses to global health issues. Earlier this year, on Jan. 30, the W.H.O. declared COVID-19, coronavirus, a state of global health emergency. In President Trump’s press conference he declared that this response was delayed, and if it had been made sooner there would have been much fewer cases, and deaths, of the virus at a global scale. In response to this claim, the W.H.O. Director-General Tedros Adhanom Gherbreyesus highlighted that the W.H.O. made their announcement following the 82nd case, outside of China; thus, he argued that “the world had enough time to intervene.” Ultimately, Trump was unpleased with the timing of the W.H.O.’s response to the coronavirus and believed the organization was unfairly treating the United States, as the organization’s largest funding source.

Earlier this month, Trump wrote and issued a letter to the World Health Organization addressing these concerns and threatened to cease the US membership if the organization “does not commit to major substantive improvements within the next 30 days.” Trump hoped that the letter would encourage the W.H.O. to make significant reforms that could benefit the US, especially as the nation leading in COVID-19 casualties. At the heart of Trump’s argument was the immense funding that the US contributes to the organization annually, making up roughly 14.6% of the organization’s total budget. Therefore, after receiving no response following this 30 day period, Trump formally announced the termination of the relationship between the US and the W.H.O. While Trump declared the nation’s defunding of the W.H.O., many were quick to question the legitimacy of his claim and if he has the executive power to determine international funding.

Trump’s announcement to defund the W.H.O. provoked more uncertainties than explanations within the news industry. Authorized funding is an assigned duty of the US Congress, making Congressional approval necessary for Trump’s plan to defund the W.H.O. true. Thus, it is imperative to question how the Trump administration will ensure that Congress can and will decide to remove the funding. Additionally, if the United States does formally leave the organization, how will the removal of US aid and resources impact the success of the World Health Organization?  How will the US survive without the W.H.O. during global health crises? Historically, the W.H.O. has been dependent on the US’s funds to decrease the risks and impede the spread of international diseases. Historically, the US has been dependent on the W.H.O.’s commitment to protecting its members in times of health emergencies. Furthermore, while Trump and his team believe this termination will help preserve our nation’s wealth and benefit the US economically, many opponents argue that money has little worth compared to the weakening of our international relations. These opponents worry that the removal of the US from the W.H.O. will diminish the US’s voice as a global power and our protection from unforeseeable global pandemics, such as the one we are experiencing today.



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Caroline Swanson – I am a double major in political science, specializing in American politics, and media studies at the University of California, Berkeley. As an aspiring political journalist I decided to join the political awareness team because it prioritizes unbiased political education that is essential for citizens to be actively engaged in our governmental institutions. I am eager to write and share about women in political positions and the United States’ role in global politics!

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