Statement |

WHO 146th EB - 2.1 - WHO reform Involvement of non-State actors in WHO’s governing bodies

Marie-Elisabeth Ingres
Deputy head Humanitarian Representation

MSF statement on the report by the Director-General: WHO reform Involvement of non-State actors in WHO’s governing bodies

WHO Executive Board's Special Session on Ebola UN Photo/Christopher Black

Speaker: Marie-Elisabeth Ingres

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) is registered as a non-State actor of the World Health Organization. As such, we participated in the web-based consultation in 2019.

MSF has taken note of the report presented by the Director-General and welcomes the initiative to consult non-State actors in order to improve their contribution and added value to WHO governance and the high-level dialogue with Member States on global public health issues.

The current system gives MSF and others opportunities to express our voices; we also believe that it is essential for civil society to have the possibility of expressing its views through different channels. 

However, we are concerned about some suggestions presented in this report that could limit the possibility for NGOs with recognised health expertise to fully contribute to these exchanges. The non-State actors constitute a very diverse group, which represents a real asset for WHO and Member States in finding solutions to current health challenges. Yet interests pursued by different CSOs, foundations and the private sector (commercial) are of different nature and this should be acknowledged.

While we understand the need for rationalisation requested by the Director-General in his report, we consider that the creation of a global constituency and the grouping of statements will jeopardise the valuable diversity of contributions from civil society to the general assembly’s debates. 

We are convinced that preserving space for diverse voices within the CSOs will continue to allow enriched interactions with Member States to better inform their decision-making. 

Based on the first feedback we have heard from different actors and our own concerns, MSF calls on WHO and Member States to postpone their decision until satisfactory proposals for a way forward are on the table and a clear consensus is reached.