Five US Republican Senators introduced a bill on May 6 to review the “accountability and effectiveness” of US participation in the World Health Organisation (WHO) and other international institutions. The latest move by the Republican senators comes after US President Donald Trump halted the funding to the UN health agency accusing it of being “China-centric”.
Jim Risch, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, along with four other members introduced the Multilateral Aid Review Act of 2020 (MAR Act). The MAR Act is aimed at establishing a task force to evaluate how well multilateral institutions carry out their missions and serve American interests and taxpayers.
Announcing the bill, Risch said that it is important for the United States, as the world’s “most generous” humanitarian and development donor, to know where the taxpayers’ money is being spent. He added that the Multilateral Review Task Force, set up under the Act, will provide the “necessary insight” for making informed decisions on financial contributions.
“As we have seen most recently with questionable actions taken by the World Health Organization in response to the spread of COVID-19, it is critically important to have accountability and oversight of our assistance,” said Risch in a statement.
Under the key provision of the MAR Act, an interagency Multilateral Review Task Force will be established which will be chaired by the State Secretary. A Multilateral Aid Review Peer Review Group will be formed to assist the task force and provide expertise and the members of the group will be appointed by congressional leaders.
Recently, State Secretary Mike Pompeo had warned that Washington may never restore the funding of WHO and could even set up an alternative body to the UN agency that will deliver on the “intended purposes”. In a radio interview on April 23, the top US diplomat hinted at a "reform" while questioning the ability of the WHO to perform its primary function. Pompeo said that the leaders of the United States have an obligation to make sure that the taxpayers’ money is spent with institutions and on projects that actually deliver the outcomes that they are intended to deliver.