PM WUDC 2021 Open Final – TH supports the creation of an international court with a mandate to prosecute leaders for health crimes

Image by Debate Korea from YouTube

David Africa, Korea WUDC 2021 Open Finals Prime Minister

Check the video here.


It is crazy that when it is a bullet that takes it all, we form courts. But when it is a bacteria, we throw up our hands and we forget that it ever happened.


To be clear, what are we doing in this debate?
We broadly expect an international court created in alignment with the World Health Organization, and we expect this to be heavily supported by all the countries that are in the WHO. We expect this to have the participation of scientists, experts, to consistently write technical papers or to inform our judgments. Appoint these from each country for judges and so on. We also expect that participation in the WHO and receiving benefits like aid is conditional to being party to this international court.

Why is this likely to be the manifestation of a court? I know Opp will challenge this. There are 7 reasons why we think countries will opt in and why we think this will be effective.

  1. Countries that do not consent to such an authority without themselves having some say in a negotiation of that body will obviously be revolting, so they would like to have some participation given that this body will have some control over the world’s health resources no matter what.
  2. This is likely to be a broad worry that the international community is ineffective, which is why they are likely to take these actions into their own hands because they want to make these decisions reasonable, they learn from the mistakes of previous international courts.
  3. People generally care about health as an issue and they want to be a participant to many things that are clearly on a level of a global scale.
  4. There is a selfish incentive to imposing stringent regulations in that leaders now are unlikely to face consequence of being punished as they are on their way out but will benefit from the legitimacy this provides, if they’re authoritarianism or whatever they are.
  5. There’s also a game theoretic advantage in that you are harmed by other states in the case that a pandemic goes awry, so you want to hold other states to account.
  6. The advantage is that many benefits you care about like health education, cheap medical goods, and so on will be contingent on this, and beyond that there are spillover effects like economic benefits that you might care about, so you want to be a party in this in order to receive the benefits of the WHO, and so on.

So. What are crimes we’ll be punishing?
We look to examples like Bolsonaro being unwilling to comply with the recommendation for usage of masks and quarantine measures. We’re looking at the unwillingness of China to comply with WHO investigations on the Virology Institute of Wuhan. We’re talking about the hoarding of resources in countries and so on, vaccines and ventilators.

Why do they do these crimes?
So there are a variety of reasons we suspect they might do this. They might not be technologically equipped at that time, or they might not have the right decision, or maybe it’s just the short term incentives are too powerful and they felt the need to sacrifice thousands of lives in the future to allay present fears.

We will impose punishments such as imprisoning leaders or extended prison time, taking them out of power or asking them to be deposed. We’re OK with doing this during the crisis if it’s feasible to realign national incentives, but we expect that in some cases for it to happen after the fact anyway.

POI CO: We’re also trying to create an international court for human crimes and crimes against humanity. How successful has that been?
Answer: That’s a good question. Maybe you should answer that in your speech.

Argument #1: We believe that there are trivial benefits to encouraging countries to comply with health regulations

Note that this massively changes the incentives of leaders we identify in the setup for all the reasons we give. We suspect this has gigantic benefits.

Firstly, on following the regulations on pandemics. For things like Covid, potential future ones like SARS, preventable diseases like malaria.

  1. We enjoin the prevention of future harm for occurring to people because measures are taken to overturn the short-term incentives to focus on keeping the economy afloat instead of the long-term incentive of active early. We’re able to mobilize health forces to start early lockdown in areas that would not have otherwise done it, which means that we prevent massively the spread of diseases while they are still easy to solve.
  2. This allows for effective healthcare response in that actual policies imposed by the WHO are substantially more effective than ones implemented on the ground because they have access to a greater breadth of resources such as health experts from all around the world who have access to various different contexts and so on.
  3. They benefit from a cohesive response in the sense of lockdowns and other policies become ineffective since pandemics don’t recognize borders. Even if the spread is very slow in one place, if it is open in another place, the spread might still continue, and as such we will have to keep that lockdown for as long as everyone has kept their borders open.
  4. We also suspect the allocation of effective resources to where it’s most needed. It’s crazy that in the Philippines, hospitals are missing ventilators, vaccines, and beds, while there are storehouses full of them in the Western world. We suspect it would be a massive benefit simply to put places when resources in some countries into other countries to allow access to these things had the threat of imprisoning people for hoarding resources for future potential gain.
  5. Notably, this also deals with massive future benefits such as antibiotics. Where in the sense that in the order of future potential lives, diseases that have no cure might potentially arise, because they have built up an immunity to everything we could throw at them, because we decided to spend our antibiotics on agriculture and so on, instead of protecting the lives of people.

We suspect massively reducing the added political incentive for countries to do this for the capacity for them to do this by taking away their resources, by making them not part of the international organizations anymore, would massively benefit these individuals.

Note, I just want to impact this before we move on to the next part about enjoining trust.

  1. In terms of scale, this is a policy on a gargantuan scale, heaving across hundreds of countries and ensuring that health resources are more adequately allocated and equitably allocated to thousands of the world’s most poor.
  2. In terms of gravity, this deals with some of the most vulnerable. Those in rural areas without access to effective healthcare resources. Those who are old and cannot take vaccines and rely on herd immunity. These are the people we protect.

Notably, this also has a secondary benefit, we think this is equally important, in the sense that the creation of a court causes trust to arise and appeases overall investment and participation in global health.

The Opp’s refrain is that these countries are ineffective in the sense that they are toothless, even if the WHO tells you to do something, you’re unlikely to follow it. Moreover, politicians want to be sure that they can hold other politicians to account so they are likely to manifest their will through this court. And moreover, no politician wants to look like they would fear like they’ll be imprisoned for committing a health crime, which means that they’ll also increasingly participate in this court.

This means that we have way more money, cooperations from local forces, and participation in this international organization, which means that we amplify any of the benefits that we provide earlier, and they seem to be pretty big benefits.

The end of this first argument is quite simple, we’re closer to saving the world.

Argument #2: This is principally important and principally legitimate

We suspect an argument that’d come out that you might subvert the democratic will of people. There are 4 reasons why this doesn’t happen and notably why this is also a principally legitimate thing to do.

  1. This organization is consented to. Countries participate in the organization and the ratification of such a treaty and a court. But moreover they vote in politicians that do the negotiating for them.
  2. The healthcare that we propose is a fundamental right that exists as a precondition for the fulfillment of democratic will. If you are dying, if you do not have access to goods, it doesn’t matter if you hypothetically access your will in the future if you are not able to access that because you don’t survive.
  3. Moreover, an effective baseline in the first place is necessary, regardless whether or not democratic will is important, states have a responsibility to opt into situations where they allow for the preconditions to that will to exist and manifest in the first place.
  4. We also identify that on the balance of rights, even if you fulfill your democratic will as a people, this often comes at the balance or at the cost of other democratic rights that other individuals might have. So you as a Western country might be OK with having very lax quarantine measures, but people in surrounding countries who might be harmed might still not have access to democratic will and might not have consented to that in the first place. This is often very difficult for economies to face.

We also suspect there are two separate principled reasons as for why we think this is very very good.

  1. On the level of utilitarianism, this deals with benefits on a gigantic scale, In the sense that thousands and thousands of people’s lives who do not care about the democratic will, do not care about principled legitimacy without being given access to the lives.
  2. This deals with people on a scale inordinately into the future. That is to say future deaths to pandemics. That is to say future deaths to superbugs from antibiotics. People who would not have to spend massive amounts of money in order to support a government welfare policy in order to support a basically overburdened and basically toppling the international health system.

We suspect that these benefits are also quite large for 3 reasons.

  1. There’s substantially more likely to be people in the future, there are populations growing over time.
  2. These people have no consent to what happened over the past, and such we have a responsibility to create an international court for these people in the future.
  3. We are taking mutually exclusive resources away from them, which is why we should care for them.


There are 2 reasons why Opening Government wins this debate.

  1. We explain why we save the world
  2. We explain why there is no other possible choice.