On Saturday, 8 February 2020, Knowledge Ecology International (KEI) delivered the following statement on WHO reform – Involvement of non-State actors in WHO’s governing bodies at the 146th session of WHO’s Executive Board.
Knowledge Ecology International
Executive Board 146
22.1 WHO reform – Involvement of non-State actors in WHO’s governing bodies
Thank you Chair.
While we acknowledge the Secretariat’s efforts to develop pathways for more meaningful involvement of civil society at the World Health Assembly and the Executive Board, the Secretariat’s flawed proposal to create five joint constituencies – three for NGOs, one for philanthropic foundations, and one for international business associations is in dire need of a course correction. At last count (February 2019), 217 entities were in official relations with WHO. Given the diversity of actors ranging from multinational corporate interests, foundations to public health champions and noting the multiplicity of issues addressed by governing bodies meetings for example, pandemic preparedness and response, snakebites, nutrition, and expanding access to cancer treatments, the Secretariat’s proposal could result in chaos and undermine democratic engagement at the world’s leading health agency.
The Secretariat’s joint constituency proposal stands in stark contrast to the customary practice of civil society engagement at other Geneva-based UN institutions including at the World Intellectual Property Organization and the Human Rights Council. We call upon the Executive Board to defer action on document EB146/33 and request the Secretariat to present its revised proposal to EB 148 in 2021.