Thursday, 17 October 2013

First impressions from the WHO consultation on “Non-state actors” relations

Impressions from the first morning of the informal consultation, by Thomas Schwarz, Executive Secretary of the MMI Network.

(1) It is incredible to see how semantics develop and can influence a process. The blurring and simplifying “non-state actors” language introduced by the WHO secretariat before the May EB meeting and used as a title for the current consultation meeting has become mainstream, accepted and used by most of the speakers. Implications for the future process?
(2) Very interesting feedback by WHO DG’s special envoy Thomas Zeltner from his consultations with the private industry: “They are not interested to directly participate in the meetings of the WHO governing bodies, because they are already there, represented by their associations which are registered as NGOs.” – How will WHO handle this situation and prevent undue industry influence in its normative and regulatory work if not with a very specific private sector policy including their business associations?

(3) It is also interesting how countries such as Finland and Brazil now refer to their experiences with dialogue with the private sector. What are their rules for this? I would also be interested to know more about the composition of country delegations at the WHO governing body meetings, mainly regarding parliament, civil society members, academia – and lobbyists.
(4) The whole consultation focuses on the WHO Secretariat level. But all WHO member states need to define policies and instruments for engaging civil society not only in their domestic health policies, but also in the making of their positions on global (health) issues. We are advocating for a WHO in which the normative processes for global health policy are led by countries, based on coherent positions resulting from a democratic political process at the domestic level. True global health democracy (and related accountability) starts at home. There is no shortcut nor quick fix for it at a global level. 
Consultation Meeting website:
MMI thematic guide on WHO reform:

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