WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration has formally notified the United Nations of its withdrawal from the World Health Organization, although the pullout won't take effect until next year, meaning it could be rescinded under a new administration or if circumstances change. Former Vice President Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, said he would reverse the decision on his first day in office if elected.
The withdrawal notification makes good on President Donald Trump's vow in late May to terminate U.S. participation in the WHO, which he has harshly criticized for its response to the coronavirus pandemic and accused of bowing to Chinese influence.
The move was immediately assailed by health officials and critics of the administration, including numerous Democrats who said it would cost the U.S. influence in the global arena.
The withdrawal notice was sent to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday and will take effect in a year, on July 6, 2021, the State Department and the United Nations said on Tuesday.
The State Department said the U.S. would continue to seek reform of the WHO, but referred to Trump's June 15 response when asked if the administration might change its mind. “I'm not reconsidering, unless they get their act together, and I'm not sure they can at this point,” Trump said.
Guterres, in his capacity as depositary of the 1946 WHO constitution, “is in the process of verifying with the World Health Organization whether all the conditions for such withdrawal are met,” his spokesman, Stephane Dujarric, said.
Under the terms of the withdrawal, the U.S. must meet its financial obligations to the WHO before it can be finalized. The U.S., which is the agency's largest donor and provides it with more than $450 million per year, currently owes the WHO some $200 million in current and past dues.