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The Case Against WHO’s Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom

January 20, 2022

To: WHO Office of Compliance, Risk Management and Ethics (CRE)

Dr. Tedros Adhanom has repeatedly and in multiple ways violated the Constitution of the World Health Organization (WHO) during his tenure as Director-General of the organization. His unethical and irresponsible conduct has made a mockery of the flagship UN institution. His behavior completely fails to uphold the high standards of impartiality and professionalism expected of his office. To allow him to continue as a leader will erode not just WHO, but the UN as well. Indeed, the existing and widely disseminated evidence of Dr. Tedros’s unethical conduct, and the lack of investigation into this opensource evidence, already poses considerable reputational risk to the UN system.

We, the undersigned, formally request that Dr. Tedros be investigated for ethics violations.

The preamble of the WHO Constitution states that: “The enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition.” Dr. Tedros, who has elevated his tribal and ethnic passions over his national, human and professional responsibilities, has shamefully made exactly such a “distinction of race and political belief.” On several occasions, he has spoken up about the current civil conflict in Ethiopia, but only to highlight the harm experienced by the Tigrayan people, with whom he identifies ethnically. He has acted in unmistakable antagonism towards Ethiopia, and in support of the TPLF, the political party of which, for 12 years, he was an executive committee member.

Dr. Tedros has said nothing about the outrages committed against other ethnicities, especially the Afar and Amhara peoples, in the insurgency war that his political party, the TPLF, is conducting against Ethiopia. To have attained his current office as an Ethiopian, but to turn a blind eye to the suffering of Ethiopians simply because they do not belong to his ethnic group is an unspeakable moral offense.

Dr. Tedros spoke up about the lack of medicine and food in Tigray knowing full well that the challenges delaying some humanitarian provisions was due to the TPLF shelling of access routes from Afar and Amhara to Tigray. This activity, a classic and well-known insurgency tactic, is ongoing today and, similar to the TPLF’s campaign in the 1980s, is being used to support false claims of ‘blockades’ and ‘sieges’. He has been silent as TPLF hijacked trucks intended for delivering food and medicine are being used to transport fighters advancing to the Afar and Amhara Regions. While highlighting the lack of medicine in hospitals in Tigray, he has said nothing about the destruction and looting of over 500 health facilities and 1,706 health posts in Amhara Region, and 78% Health facilities in Afar Region.

Dr. Tedros’ partisan press releases, his media interviews, and social media posts all go against the regulations of the WHO and constitute a violation of the WHO’s Ethics Guidelines. His social media posts, for example, are so blatantly one-sided that the line between his private view and WHO’s position is blurred. A cursory look at his official twitter account reveals the extent to which he would go to highlight the harm and destruction in Tigray region while completely ignoring the destruction in the Afar and Amhara regions. He has abused his position as head of WHO to advance a political agenda.

It is wholly unacceptable that, in his capacity as an international civil service leader, Dr. Tedros has been permitted to opine on the civil conflict. At the very least, he should have spoken about the suffering of all people in Ethiopia and not just one group. Instead, he chose to use his position to uphold the banner of his former political party, and to abandon his professional and human responsibilities.

While Dr. Tedros has mismanaged the WHO response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he has spoken against the injustice of the rich nations reserving the COVID-19 vaccines for their own people. Despite raising this issue of ‘injustice’, he remains blind to the injustices against his own Ethiopian people in both Afar and Amhara, where the TPLF destroyed the health infrastructure. In suggesting that wealthier nations should do for “low income countries” what they are exclusively doing for their own, the crime he so sensitively protests is that of partiality. But, by turning a blind eye to the suffering of those Ethiopians he considers not worthy of his advocacy, he himself is committing the crime of partiality. This behaviour is hypocritical and exposes a selective approach towards humanity. That Dr Tedros continues to knowingly commit this violation is also unacceptable.

Chapter VII’s Article 37 of the WHO Constitution states: “In the performance of their duties, the Director-General and the staff […] shall refrain from any action which might reflect on their position as international officers.” Dr. Tedros’ conduct and behaviour stands in direct violation to the very text and spirit this eminent WHO rule, as stated in its preamble.

Ethiopia, a WHO member state, has filed a formal investigation request to the WHO Executive Board over Dr. Tedros’ conduct. We have requested that Ethiopia’s delegation to the WHO take the appropriate measures in line with the WHO Office of Compliance, Risk Management and Ethics (CRE) – and the African Delegation to the WHO Executive Board – to complete an investigation of Dr. Tedros’ ethical violations. An organization like WHO, whose essence is to uphold the highest ethical standards, must have leadership that reflects its fundamental values. WHO should not tolerate even the appearance of inappropriateness, let alone clear-cut violations.

We respectfully request that the WHO Executive Board take the following actions during its upcoming 150th session of the Executive Board from 24-29 January 2022:

1.Immediately act on the Government of Ethiopia’s request to the WHO
Executive Board.

2.Support the Investigation Request to the WHO Office of Compliance, Risk Management and Ethics (CRE) to investigate Dr. Tedros Adhanom.

3.Request the resignation of Dr. Tedros for violating WHO Ethics Guidelines.

4.If Dr. Tedros refuses to resign, he should be suspended of his leadership post until a full investigation is completed.


•American Ethiopian Public Affairs Committee

•Concerned Ethiopians

•Concerned Clinical and Health Researchers in Australia

•Ethiopian Diaspora High Level Advisory Council on COVID-19

•Ethiopian Medical Association

•Ethiopian Public Health Association

•Ethiopian Scholars in Nordic Countries

•South African Medical Association

•Lesotho Medical Association

•People To People, Inc.


United Nations Secretary-General, António Manuel Guterres

President, Sahle-Work Zewde, of the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia Prime Minister, Dr. Abiy Ahmed

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Demeke Mekonnen Minister of Justice Dr. Gedion Timotheos

President of the Federal Supreme Court, Meaza Ashenafi

Ethiopian Ambassador to the United States, Fitsum Arega Gebrekidan
United Nations Permanent Representative of Ethiopia, Taye Atske Selassie Amde

Note: As of January 19, 2022, over 53, 900 petitioners have signed requesting Dr.

Tedros Adhanom be removed.


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