[Ip-health] WHO: Civil society protest over undermining of current negotiation on FENSA

Mirza Alas mirzalas at gmail.com
Wed Oct 28 05:02:25 PDT 2015

*TWN Info Service on Health Issues (Oct15/17)  27 October 2015 Third World

* WHO: Civil society protest over undermining of current negotiation on

Dear friends and colleagues,

On 15 October 44 civil society organizations and networks (increased to 61
signatories as of 26 October) addressed a letter to Dr. Margaret Chan,
Director-General of the World Health Organization, to express their concern
over a “non-paper” prepared by the Secretariat and given to Member States
right before the start of informal negotiations on the Framework of
Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA) that took place from October 19 to
23 at the WHO Headquarters in Geneva.

(See article <http://twn.my/title2/health.info/2015/hi151011.htm> titled: *WHO
Secretariat “scare mongering” on FENSA*.)

The 68th World Health Assembly (WHA) had requested the Director-General to
submit the finalized draft text to the 69th WHA (in 2016) through the 138th
session of WHO’s Executive Board. The resolution also requested the
Director-General “to develop the register of non-State actors in time for
the Sixty–ninth World Health Assembly, taking into account progress made on
the draft framework of engagement with non-State actors” and to convene as
soon as possible, and no later than October 15, an open-ended
inter-governmental meeting (OEIGM) to finalize the draft framework”.

Informal consultations have taken place in July and September with a formal
round of negotiations scheduled to take place the first week of December

The letter to Dr. Margaret Chan is reproduced below.

With best wishes,
Mirza Alas
Third World Network

Dr. Margaret Chan
World Health Organization

Dear Dr. Chan

We, the undersigned, are from public-interest civil society networks and
organizations who stand for a strong, independent World Health Organization
(WHO) that does its work with integrity and deserves the trust of global

We write to express our concern about the “non-paper” titled “Implications
of Implementing Framework of Engagement with Non-state Actors” that was
issued by the Secretariat on 14 October 2015.

WHO Members States initiated the development of the Framework of Engagement
with Non-State Actors (FENSA) to safeguard the independence, integrity and
credibility of the WHO when engaging with ‘non-state actors’ (NSAs). FENSA
was to provide a robust framework for engagement with NSAs to ensure the
protection of the Organization from undue influence especially in its norms
and standard setting functions.

The non-paper prepared by the Secretariat, portrays the implementation of
FENSA as having “detrimental consequences on the work of WHO”, provides no
constructive contribution to the new Member State-led process.  We question
the motives behind such a paper as it comes in the middle of negotiations.
It is purported prepared on the basis of a decision of the World Health
Assembly (WHA). Yet, we do not find any such decision reflected in the WHA
resolutions or the list of decisions.

We are very concerned that the paper by the Secretariat can undermine
further strengthening of a FENSA and prevent it becoming a truly robust
framework, as the paper lists the potential ‘unintended consequences’ often
in an exaggerated manner, as assumptions, without providing any empirical
evidence to back up these claims.

A robust framework is essential to protect the integrity, independence and
credibility of WHO as it carries out its essential norm-setting tasks.  We
refer here to your address at the Regional Committee of Europe on 15
September 2015, in which you stated:

*“The new distribution of power raises an absolutely critical question for
health in the sustainable development era. Who really governs the policies
that shape our health? Is it democratically elected officials acting in the
public interest? Is it multinational corporations acting in their own
interest? Or is it both? That is, governments making policies that are
heavily influenced by corporate lobbies.” (1)*

While fully agreeing with your concern, we would like to point out that it
is high time to take measures in the Organization to insulate WHO from
corporate capture and other undue influences. It will be a step in the
right direction if the final framework contains effective provisions for
identifying risks of undue corporate influence, including conflicts of
interest, and measures to avoid and when not possible, manage, such risks
in a transparent and effective manner.

Moreover, currently, WHO does not have transparent and effective policies
and tools to prevent such undue influences and risks.  As you are aware,
the Organization lacks a comprehensive conflicts of interest policy within
which the existing tools could be implemented, and new ones identified and
developed, including capacity building for WHO staff. Therefore, it is very
disconcerting that the FENSA provisions on conflicts of interest contain
conceptual errors, despite repeated attempts by public interest advocates
to highlight these in the governing body debates and in NGO statements. It
is urgent to fix those errors.

We call upon you to ensure that your Secretariat supports a constructive
finalization of a FENSA that includes robust provisions to prevent undue
influence from the private corporate sector, including corporate
philanthropy foundations, and that the secondary interest of WHO to secure
funding does not collide with the WHO constitutional mandate, a conflict of
interest that global public health cannot afford.

We thus kindly ask you to ensure that the Secretariat act in good faith and
protect the independence, integrity and credibility of WHO. We stand ready
to support your efforts in that direction.

(1)  http://www.who.int/dg/speeches/2015/europe-regional-committee/en/


   1. ACT+  Alliance for Tobacco Control and Health Promotion (Brazil)
   2. Action on Sugar and World Action on Salt and Health
   3. Alcohol Policy Youth Network
   4. All India Drug Action Network
   5. Alliance Against Conflict of Interest (AACI)
   6. Anti Drug Abuse Association of Lesotho (ADAAL)
   7. Arugaan Philippines
   8. Asociacion Centro Feminista de Informacion y Accion – CEFEMINA
   9. Associa็ใo Mama Mater/IBFAN Portugal
   10. Association of Breastfeeding Mothers
   11. Baby Milk Action
   12. Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation
   13. Berne Declaration
   14. Blue Cross Norway
   15. Blue Cross Thaba Bosiu Centre (TBC)
   16. Breastfeeding Network (UK)
   17. Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India (BPNI)
   18. Centre for Science in the Public Interest (Canada)
   19. CESTA Friends of the Earth El Salvador
   20. Corporate Accountability International
   21. Diverse Women for Diversity (India)
   22. El Poder del Consumidor (Mexico)
   23. FIAN International
   24. FIAN Nepal and National Network on Right to Food Nepal
   25. First steps Nutrition Trust  (UK)
   26. Foundation for Research in Science, Technology & Ecology
   27. Global Policy Forum
   28. GNRTFN secretariat
   29. Haburas Foundation/ Friends of the Earth Timor-Leste
   30. Health Equalities Group
   31. Health Innovation in Practice (HIP), Geneva
   32. ICCO COOPERATION, India Office
   33. Initiative for Health & Equity in Society (India)
   34. Institute for Socioeconomic Studies - INESC (Brazil)
   35. International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN)
   36. International Code Documentation Centre (ICDC)
   37. Knowledge Ecology International
   38. La Leche League Great Britain (UK)
   39. Lactation Consultants of Great Britain
   40. Medico International
   41. Medicus Mundi International – Network Health for All
   42. Mother and Infant Research Unit, University of Dundee (UK)
   43. NCT (UK)
   44. Osservatorio Italiano sulla Salute Globale (OISG)
   45. People’s Health Movement (Global)
   46. REDES-FoE (Uruguay)
   47. Responsible Approaches to Infant Feeding (RAIF). New Zealand
   48. RIPESS Intercontinental
   49. Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (UK)
   50. SAAPA Lesotho
   51. Society for International Development –SID (Italy)
   52. The European Alcohol Policy Alliance
   53. The Housing and Land Rights Network
   54. Third World Network (TWN)
   55. UK Faculty of Public Health
   56. UK Health Forum
   57. WEMOS Foundation
   58. World Breastfeeding Tends Initiative
   59. World Obesity Federation
   60. World Public Health Nutrition Association
   61. Youth Network No Excuse Slovenia


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