23.10.2015 | Baby Food Action Network

NGOs criticise WHO's 'non paper' on conflicts of interest

For the past 4 years and as part of the WHO reform, WHO and its governing bodies are discussing new set of policies, currently called Framework of Engagement With Non State Actors (FENSA). This is a critically important document as its final shape will determine whether WHO will be an agency able to protect its independence, integrity and credibility. The International Baby Food Action Network (IBFAN), Third World Network (TWN) and other Public-interest NGOs, professional bodies and networks have been closely following the process.

Negotiations are taking place in Geneva this week and today - Friday 23rd October - Member States will discuss a new problematic document - referred to as a NonPaper[1] that has been prepared by WHO's Secretariat. This paper lists supposed risks of implementing FENSA and suggests that it would have “detrimental consequences on the work of WHO.”

In response to the "non-paper'' over 40 NGOs working in health, right to food and nutrition or human rights have written to Dr Chan, Director General of WHO, calling on her to protect the UN and overall policy-making from corporate takeover. FENSA Letter_22 Oct15.4

The NGOs express concern that the "non-paper'' is an attempt by the Secretariat to prevent the further strengthening of FENSA that would allow it to become a much-needed robust framework that would insulate WHO from corporate capture and other undue influences. Currently WHO does not have transparent effective policies and tools to prevent such undue influences.

The "non-paper'' lists potential ‘unintended consequences’ often in an exaggerated manner, as assumptions, without providing any empirical evidence to back up these claims.

The letter reminds Dr Chan of her statement at the Regional Committee of Europe on 15 September 2015 in which she said: “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 Implication of Implementing the Framework of Engagement with Non State Actors - Non Paper prepared by the WHO Secretariat for consideration by the informal meeting of Member States on 19-23 October.