Nobel Peace Prize for WHO Would Be a Blow to Trump and a Big Win for China

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The World Health Organization is the frontrunner to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize in a development that experts say could represent a blow to President Donald Trump‘s efforts to disparage the agency as a puppet for China, a country on which he’s sought to pin the blame for the coronavirus’ global spread.

In a widely-shared op-ed published Wednesday by The Washington Post, U.N. Dispatch blog editor and Global Dispatches podcast host Marc Leon Goldberg laid out a case in favor of the WHO winning the coveted prize due to its international efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

In it, he notes that, “Conferring the Nobel Peace Prize on the WHO would be interpreted in the United States as a political act — and it will be.”

Speaking to Newsweek, Goldberg said such a move would be necessary to counter another politically motivated campaign championed by Trump, who has withdrawn funding for the global health agency over what he alleged to be its complicity in a conspiracy orchestrated by China to cover up the severity of the disease as it spread through the country in its early stages.

A WHO victory, Goldberg explained, would “point to the fact that the Trump administration’s decision to withhold funding from the World Health Organization and actively seek to undermine it is, itself just a blatantly political act, seeking to shift blame from his own tragically incompetent handling of this crisis.”

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In this screen grab, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director general of the World Health Organization, speaks during Peace One Day, presented virtually on the U.N. International Day of Peace on September 21 in Geneva, Switzerland. Tedros and his organization are favorites to win this year’s Nobel Peace Prize for leading global efforts to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.
Peace One Day/Getty Images

The WHO’s relationship with China has been subject to some international scrutiny, but Trump has unilaterally led a warpath against the agency and its chief, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, over claims of undue ties to Beijing.

Even as the president was sick with COVID-19, he continued to refer to the disease as the “Chinese virus.”

Citing an earlier CIA document, Newsweek reported in May that Chinese President Xi Jinping had pressured the WHO with potential non-cooperation should the agency raise the alarm about the novel coronavirus disease as it began to infect populations far beyond the central city of Wuhan in January.

Notably, however, the document characterized the WHO as “Mindful But Not Beholden to China.”

Goldberg described the dynamics between the WHO and Beijing as simply a matter of how such international institutions were organized and operated, dependent on the governments of the world to cooperate with them.

“It’s just a function of how the WHO is set up,” Goldberg said. “The WHO relies on its member states to provide it information about pandemics and diseases occurring on their territory.”