[Ip-health] Fwd: TWN Info: Civil society call to save WHO from undue influence of corporations and corporate linked entities

K.M. Gopakumar kumargopakm at gmail.com
Tue Apr 26 03:10:31 PDT 2016

*Title :* TWN Info: Civil society call to save WHO from undue influence of
corporations and corporate linked entities
*Date :* 26 April 2016


TWN Info Service on IP, Health and UN Sust. Dev.
26 April 2016
Third World Network

Dear friends and colleagues,

Member States of the World Health Organization are expected to adopt a
Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA) in May after a year
of negotiations. The final phase of negotiations is taking place in the
Open Ended Inter-Governmental Meeting from 25 to 27 April at the WHO
headquarters in Geneva.

FENSA will replace existing guidelines and there is widespread concern
among civil society organizations that FENSA may fall below existing
safeguards that aim to prevent undue influence from the private sector,
especially corporations, international business associations and corporate
linked philanthropic foundations. Undue influence over the norm setting
function of the WHO as well as financing from the private sector are among
the major concerns in the North-South divide over how to deal with WHO's
engagement with the private sector.

Below is the Civil Society Statement endorsed by 34 organizations and
networks from all over the world calling to  *Save the World Health
Organization from the undue influence of corporations and corporate linked

With best wishes,
Third World Network


*Civil Society Statement*

*Save the World Health Organization from the undue influence of
corporations and corporate linked entities*

Geneva 25th April 2016

The independence, integrity and credibility of World Health Organization
(WHO) and its capacity to fulfil its constitutional mandate would be
compromised if Member States failed to put in place a robust framework to
protect WHO from undue influences, especially by private sector and private
sector linked philanthropic foundations and conflicted Non-Governmental
Organisations (NGOs).

The Open Ended Inter-Governmental Meeting (OEIGM) will meet for three days,
25-27 April 2016 to finalise the Framework of Engagement with Non-State
Actors (FENSA) following one year of negotiations.

We, members of the public-interest civil society organizations, call on the
participants of the meeting to ensure that the framework does not fall
below existing safeguards that aim to prevent undue influence from the
private sector, and to strengthen them.

For instance, the current guidelines to regulate WHO’s engagement with the
private sector restrict the acceptance of financial resources from the
private sector to support salaries of WHO staff.  The current FENSA draft
ignores such restrictions and allows the Secretariat to accept financial
support from the private sector to pay staff salaries. Likewise, while not
fully applied, current guidelines protection against representatives of
groups “that are primarily of a commercial or profit-making nature”
establishing “official relations” with the WHO and participating in
meetings of governing bodies. The FENSA proposes to explicitly allow
international business associations and philanthropic foundations to enter
into official relations with WHO.

Without adequate safeguards WHO will not be able to fulfil its
constitutional mandate as the directing and coordinating authority in
global health, setting norms and standards, and regulating harmful industry
practices.  The reliance on financial support from the private sector risks
leading to the corporate capture of WHO. The draft FENSA shows that there
is even no consensus among Member States to explicitly bar WHO from
accepting financial resources from the private sector for norms and
standard setting activities, which is particularly worrying.

We are concerned that even though various WHO documents, including the
draft FENSA text, mention concerns about conflict of interest (COI), WHO
lacks a comprehensive policy to manage both individual and institutional
COI. Most importantly, the draft FENSA, instead of filling this gap,
contains a wrong conceptualisation of conflicts of interest. Were conflicts
of interest conceptualized correctly, the entire FENSA text would look
different. Similarly, safeguards against risk of undue influence,
especially protection against conflict of interest, should be in place,
even in the case of humanitarian emergencies.

We regret to note that certain Member States, who were advocates of an
early adoption of FENSA, now threaten to block further work on
strengthening the framework. We call upon Member States to continue to work
for a robust framework that can effectively safeguard WHO’s independence,
integrity, credibility and ability to fulfill its constitutional mandate.

Member States should also urgently address the concern of sustainable
financing of WHO.  It is far too risky to use FENSA as a fund-raising
strategy. Currently more than 80% of WHO’s budget is financed through
voluntary tied contributions. This is the most critical cause of WHO’s
vulnerability to undue influences. There is an urgent need for Member
States to increase their assessed contribution.

We call upon the Member States in the OEIGM:

   - To not succumb to pressure to compromise the safeguards against undue

   - To rethink and remove the FENSA approach to the private sector
   elements—e.g. the proposal to involve corporations in programme
   implementation, advocacy, and the principle of “inclusiveness” for private
   sector and philanthropic foundations—that could give rise to undue
   influence and serious conflicts of interest.

   - To strengthen rather than weaken the safeguards against undue
   influence from the private sector, private sector linked entities, and
   public-private partnerships. At the very least, FENSA should not dilute the
   existing WHO safeguards.

   - To develop a comprehensive system, including a conflict of interest
   policy based on coherent concepts.

   - To ensure that such a comprehensive COI policy addresses the risk of
   both individual and institutional conflicts of interest.

   - To fully protect WHO’s core functions, especially its norm - and
   standard -setting activities from the undue influence by putting in place
   clear rules against acceptance of cash or in-kind contributions from NSAs
   for norm-and standard-setting activities.

   - To protect the independence and integrity of WHO from undue influence,
   even during humanitarian emergencies.

   - To urgently lift the freeze on assessed contributions and increase the
   assessed contributions, and thus reduce WHO’s dependency on voluntary
   contributions. Such action would resolve WHO’s most important institutional
   conflict of interest and save resources otherwise spent on implementing an
   ill-conceived Framework.

Endorsements from:

   1.   All India Drug Action Network

   2. Argentine Network of Positive People (Redar Positiva)- Argentina

   3. Association for Improvements in the Maternity Services (AIMS)

   4. Baby Milk Action

   5. Bangladesh Breastfeeding Foundation

   6. Berne Declaration

   7. Breastfeeding Promotion Network of India

   8. CEFEMINA (Cost Rica)

   9. Centre for Health Science and Law (CHSL)

   10. Corporate Accountability International

   11. Diverse Women for Diversity

   12. FGEP- Argentina

   13. Foundation for Research  in Science Technology & Ecology

   14. Geneva Infant Feeding Association (GIFA)

   15. Global Alcohol Policy Alliance (GAPA)

   16. Health GAP

   17. IFARMA Foundation

   18. INFACT Canada

   19. Initiative for Health & Equity in Society

   20. Initiativ Liewensufank

   21. International Baby Food Action Network

   22. International Code Documentation Centre

   23. Institute of Alcohol Studies

   24. IOGT International

   25. Knowledge Ecology International

   26. Lactation Consultants of Great Britain

   27. Medicus Mundi International - Network Health for All

   28. NCT (formerly National Childbirth Trust)

   29. Peopleดs Health Movement

   30. Positive Malaysian Treatment Access & Advocacy Group (MTAAG+)

   31. Red Latinoamericana por el Acceso a Medicamentos -RedLAM

   32. Third World Network

   33. UK Association of Milk Banks (UKAMB)

   34. WEMOS

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