[Ip-health] EB146: WHO proposes changes to the modalities of non-State actors’ engagement in WHO’s governing bodies

Thiru Balasubramaniam thiru at keionline.org
Sun Dec 15 21:31:38 PST 2019


EB146: WHO proposes changes to the modalities of non-State actors’
engagement in WHO’s governing bodies
Posted on December 15, 2019 by Thiru

Currently, the participation of non-State actors in official relations with
the World Health Organization (WHO) is regulated by the WHO’s Framework of
Engagement with non-State actors (FENSA) which is “a privilege that the
Executive Board may grant to nongovernmental organizations, international
business associations and philanthropic foundations that have had and
continue to have a sustained and systematic engagement in the interest of
the Organization” (Source: WHO reform, Involvement of non-State actors in
WHO’s governing bodies, EB146/3

Document EB146/33 on WHO reform notes the following:

Although the practice of non-State actors in official relations addressing
WHO governing bodies after Member State representatives have taken the
floor on a given topic has served the Organization well for several
decades,the increasing number of non-State actors participating and
subsequent rise in requests to speak has not resulted in a more meaningful
involvement. When a large number of non-State actors speak one-by-one at
the end of a discussion, their interventions have little impact on the
content or direction of the debate.

In terms of reform, the WHO secretariat proposes that the new modalities
governing the engagement of non-State actors engagement at WHO governing
bodies including the World Health Assembly and the Executive Board be
piloted at the Seventy-third Assembly (2020) or the Seventy-fourth Assembly

The proposed changes include the following:

An informal meeting between Member States and non-State actors in official
relations, including multiple side events and a forum with WHO technical
programmes and regions,could be organized in parallel to sessions of the
Programme Budget and Administration Committee of the Executive
Board,continuing into the weekend preceding the Health Assembly. This would
allow for more in-depth exchanges between non-State actors, WHO technical
units, WHO regional and country offices and Member States, and would
provide an opportunity for non-State actors to consult with each other,
form groups and prepare joint statement.

Non-State actors could choose the agenda items on which a maximum of five
joint statements would be delivered early in the debate. The statements
would be subject to the same time limit as that allocated to
representatives of Member States and the opportunity to speak would be
given at the discretion of the Chair of the meeting. Such joint statements
must represent the views of broad constituencies of non-State actors in
official relations with WHO. For agenda items on which joint statements are
given, there will be no possibility for individual statements from
non-State actors, although those could still be posted on the WHO website
prior to the debate. For agenda items where non-State actors choose not to
deliver joint statements, previous practice would apply, with a maximum of
seven individual statements on a first-come-first-served basis at the end
of the debate. The Secretariat would make an initial proposal regarding the
agenda items likely to attract the most interest for joint statements. This
proposal could be subject to change, with the non-State actors’ agreement

The joint constituencies model envisioned by the Secretariat is more akin
to the practice at global health agencies including the Global Fund to
Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, GAVI, and Unitaid.

The WHO Secretariat proposed the following types of constituencies:
“constituencies by topic of interest, where non-State actors could
participate in three to five groups; areas of mutual interest or expertise;
WHO operational areas; or technical topics aligned to the work of WHO
divisions. Geographical representation should not be overlooked”.

In terms of individual statements delivered by a non-State Actor (NSA) at
WHO governing bodies meetings, WHO proposed limiting the number of
interventions to a “maximum of three per non-State actor.” In terms of
delegation size, the WHO secretariat proposed capping the size of NSA
delegations to a “maximum of 25 delegates”.

Thiru Balasubramaniam
Geneva Representative
Knowledge Ecology International
41 22 791 6727
thiru at keionline.org

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