WHO-IAEA conspiracy

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The WHO-IAEA conspiracy is a conspiracy theory stating that the World Health Organization is subordinate to the International Atomic Energy Agency when it comes to publishing research about the health effects of radiation and nuclear technologies, or in other words, that IAEA has veto power over any "inconvenient" information coming from the WHO. This theory traces back to an actual agreement between the two agencies reached in 1959, which contains nothing of the sort. The theory is often used by the anti-nuclear movement to dismiss WHO reports on nuclear accidents such as Chernobyl, which show that the health effects of radioactive releases are generally minor and far less severe than impacts from the fear of radiation.

Text of the WHO-IAEA agreement[edit]

Below is the full text of the first article, which is the most relevant.[1]

Article I – Co-operation and Consultation

  1. The International Atomic Energy Agency and the World Health Organization agree that, with a view to facilitating the effective attainment of the objectives set forth in their respective constitutional instruments, within the general framework established by the Charter of the United Nations, they will act in close co-operation with each other and will consult each other regularly in regard to matters of common interest.
  2. In particular, and in accordance with the Constitution of the World Health Organization and the Statute of the International Atomic Energy Agency and its agreement with the United Nations together with the exchange of letters related thereto, and taking into account the respective co-ordinating responsibilities of both organizations, it is recognized by the World Health Organization that the International Atomic Energy Agency has the primary responsibility for encouraging, assisting and co-ordinating research on, and development and practical application of, atomic energy for peaceful uses throughout the world without prejudice to the right of the World Health Organization to concern itself with promoting, developing, assisting, and co-ordinating international health work, including research, in all its aspects.
  3. Whenever either organization proposes to initiate a programme or activity on a subject in which the other organization has or may have a substantial interest, the first party shall consult the other with a view to adjusting the matter by mutual agreement.

Anti-nuclear campaigners typically show the third clause without showing the second. The highlighted part of the second clause recognizes that the IAEA cannot order WHO to do anything that would hinder its mission. The WHO itself has also stated that it is not subordinate to the IAEA.[2]


The theory has its dedicated promotion group, Independent WHO, operating mainly from France and composed primarily of French and Swiss anti-nuclear organizations. The group's "Our Demands" page includes outright quackery, mentioning "daily administration of apple pectin" as a way to increase the elimination of radionuclides from the body.[3] This claim can be traced directly to the pseudoscientific and thoroughly discredited book Chernobyl: Consequences of the Catastrophe for People and the Environment.[4]

The following anti-nuclear groups and people also endorse this conspiracy theory:

See also[edit]