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

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Tin Puljić, Korea WUDC 2021 Open Finals Leader of Opposition 

Check the video here.


David tries to preempt why this court is going to look good, unfortunately he does it quite generically. Note all the other criminal courts which exist today, including the ICC, which controls the implementation of post-conflict reconciliation and things like this, the ICJ, which controls the implementation of international law, which presumably countries have a same incentive to say in, as he says they would here, are always in opt-in opt-out treaties that you can leave out of with no ramifications.


The weighing here is clear. The influence you would have in such a body is quite diluted insofar as you are only one of the members, specifically augmented by the fact that the countries that are the most likely to not want to comply are the countries with the least amount of resources to be able to comply with these regulations. Notably less developed countries, which means that their influence is in and of itself a priori smaller. Therefore, the risk of prosecution is more proximate and more likely than you having influence. Which means it is incredibly likely that the countries which cause the most harms, as per Opening Government’s framing, are also the countries which are going to be likely to want to minimize risk and harm in terms of prosecution and not opt into this court. Which means they a priori have a lot less sufficiency in achieving their harms.

But it also means on the comparative that the countries who do opt in are those who have no tradeoff. Those who are able to enforce these policies already, which means two things.

  1. There’s a relatively small delta already.
  2. It also means that these countries are going to have a disproportional say within the decisions of this court.

Strategic note

Before I move on to why that’s bad, let’s just make it clear that there’s no analysis from OG as to why this court has the ability to dictate healthcare policy. It has the ability to prosecute, no analysis on the likelihood of why it’s key in providing health resources globally, why it’s key in providing access. Therefore both their impacts are minimized, but also unclear why the extent of the influence or say that counts to want to have in this court in the first place is likely.

Argument #1

What kind of decisions do we think this court is going to made, based on the characterization we provide? These are going to be biased and/or irrational decisions.

  1. Insofar as Western countries are the ones that are most likely going to have sway, due to their political power but also due to the lowest tradeoff of them opting in because they’re not getting prosecuted because they have the resources to implement these policies, this means the application of Western standards to less developed countries. Note the ability to go to full lockdown is contingent on the development of your economy. On your ability to transition to the internet and online economy and digitalization of your country. Many countries physically cannot do this to keep their people alive. They need to balance between lockdown and economy.
  2. This is contingent on the ability to finance more expensive studies. Very often we have to breach ethical protocols to develop medicines for things like malaria and dengue, if we don’t have the resources to do otherwise. You have to finance expensive bureaucracy, you need to have on the ground street level bureaucracy which is going to do oversight of these policies.

Many developing countries don’t have that. What is the weighing here?

  1. The weighing is that many less developed countries have a necessity to breach these policies in order to be able to implement any kind of healthcare policy. Which means that you put them between a rock and a hard place of deciding between prosecution and helping their people. And if you do additionally prosecute, you make them less able to implement any health policy in the first place
  2. Insofar as the countries deciding these policies are those who are least fucked up, I think they have less knowledge of what is happening on the ground and therefore more likely to implement more negative standards because they do not have the oversight of what’s going on.
  3. There are worse corporate and political interests. Note that the pharmaceutical market is an incredibly competitive one. Which means corporations have a market incentive to push for prosecution of companies or leaders in the developing world who are developing specific types of medicines which are maybe more accessible or maybe a competition to them generally.
  4. But there’s also political influence. A lot of us have been shitting on the Chinese vaccine like Sinovac, it’s horrible, or Russia doesn’t provide research for their vaccine Sputnik, it’s incredibly dangerous although by the way they did, or Cuba researching for their vaccines. This means that insofar as governments are just beholden to corporate lobbies, insofar as getting donations from these lobbies is a prerequisite to being able to run a national campaign in the first place and reach your electorate, this means there’s going to be a huge amount of political pressure to lobby against companies of countries that are within the developing world and to portray them as having bad standards or as not complying.

The consequence of this is that insofar as very often their only way to get healthcare provision to their people is to have this done locally, because it reduces shipping cost and reduces dependency on the West, and therefore also the ability of the West to leverage against them, you’re removing this from them. Which means that insofar as they have local capacity to control healthcare issues, you’re making it worse. So the countries which are already worse off, already have a lower amount of resources, now just get their people dying and this directly flips the comparative of the Opening Government.

What is the comparative on the other side of the house?
Not only do they create an incentive for leaders to cover up crises, which is just mitigation to their case insofar as they’re going to get less successful persecutions, it also means you incentivize less cooperation with WHO or even countries leaving it.

Because what is the comparative?
The average citizen within the electorate doesn’t know what the WHO does on the ground. The comparative for a leader then is that it is easy for them to formulate their populist narratives of  how this is another Western-centric organization implementing measures against us. Note how countries in the developing world reject IMF even when its measures are good for them, then, try to comply with this. Which means that they’re more likely to leave the WHO because their electorate will not react against this. However, the consequences are going to be quite palpable. Because it means you have less access to grants. Less access to medical trials. Less access to medical provisions. Less cooperations with NGOs on the ground who are necessary for things like vaccine efforts. Which means that the consequence is twofold.

  1. Again, more people die
  2. You create a perverse tradeoff for these countries insofar as they have to either choose between leaving the WHO and not being prosecuted to politicians’ selfish incentives or choose in between not implementing the only policies which work within their countries.

I think the clear comparative is here, there are other mechanisms to do this. We can export generic medicine at low prices. We can earmark development aid on the conditionality that certain conditions are met. We can give them access to specific research grants. We can give them targeted access to patents.

Why is this important?
Because if there is an incentive as Opening Government concedes, to solve these healthcare problems, I think that these countries and the West realize it anyway. Which is

  1. Why it’s likely that the West will do our alternative mechanisms
  2. All of the harms posited by OG in terms of superbugs and in terms of antibiotics, the leaders in developing countries or less developed countries are aware that this fucks up their economy, and that shifts the comparative in this debate.

Before I move on to why, Closing Government.

POI CG: Do you oppose humanitarian intervention to stop genocide in all cases considering it is at times selectively used and colored by the politics of great power states?
Answer: I think the answer to that, Hamza, is how well it’s done or how well it’s not done. I’ll explain why this will be done badly.

Moving on to why we think this harms these countries.

Argument #2

Note that the countries in the developing world are aware that they want to solve these problems. The comparative is they often don’t have the resources as I’ve explained.

What is the comparative on Government?

  1. They prosecute the inability to comply with policy. They do not provide a mechanism as to how they make these countries better able to comply with that policy. The alternatives we provide actually enable this and the same mechanisms as to why there’s a Western incentive to solve these problems works as to why the West would do our alternatives, therefore this solves it better.
  2. The second reason why opting into a court is worse is because it reinforces narratives of colonialism, anti-Westernism, which makes countries less likely to comply.
  3. Lastly, I just think this reduces global buy-in in healthcare measures. We currently live in a world where Covid has spread an amalgamation of conspiracy theories. Living in a dystopia which people were never faced with before has created a huge amount of narratives as to why there’s a global enslavement plan. The creation of such a court gives huge amount of munition to anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists saying “Yes, this is true. They’re literally trying to prosecute the people who do not want to execute the global plan”. Note how many people did not take AstraZeneca because blood clots represented as a plan to cull the global population. Create a fucking global court and feed into the New World Order idiocy that is ruining the Covid vaccination plan right now.

I am so proud to wear this scarf and to oppose for Zagreb one very last time.