WHO: Member States to finalise FENSA during May Assembly

Source: Third World Network | 29 April 2016

Geneva, 29 April (K M Gopakumar) – World Health Organization Member States
decided to continue negotiations on the Framework for Engagement with
Non-State Actors (FENSA) during the 69th World Health Assembly (WHA).The 69th WHA with its annual gathering of health ministers will be held in
Geneva on 23-28 May 2016.

This decision was taken on the last day of the Open-Ended Intergovernmental
Meeting  (OEIGM) on FENSA on 27 April.

The WHA is expected to establish a drafting group that will begin work from
the second day of the Assembly. Committee A of WHA will set up the drafting
group based on the recommendation of the OEIGM. The drafting group will
negotiate the draft overarching framework and four draft sector policies
viz. NGOs, private sector, philanthropic foundations and academic
institutions, as well as the draft resolution to adopt FENSA.

The drafting group is to negotiate Paragraphs 12(a), 13, 14 and 38 of the
Private Sector Policy and Paragraphs 17, 27, 32, 34, 35, 38 and 38*bis* of
the Overarching Framework.  Further, the drafting group is to negotiate and
finalise the resolution to adopt FENSA. The OEIGM Chair has allowed Member
States to submit text proposals for inclusion in the draft resolution till
6 May. Third World Network learned that Norway has already circulated
certain amendments to the draft resolution.

The Chair is also entrusted to circulate a Chair’s text on Paragraph 27 of
the overarching framework and Paragraphs 13(a) and 14 of the Private Sector
Policy.

The recent three-day meeting of OEIGM (25-27 April) was to finalise FENSA
and the resolution on adoption of FENSA.  However, Member States could not
conclude the negotiations. Some of the paragraphs could not even be taken
up for discussion. This was mainly due to the reopening of agreed text by
countries such as Norway. Out of 6 formal working sessions, each lasting 3
hours, nearly two working sessions i.e. 6 hours were spent on negotiating
Paragraph 27. This resulted in much less time to negotiate other paragraphs
in the Private Sector Policy.

On the first day of the OEIGM Member States reached consensus on removing
the bracket on the title of Paragraph 23 on conflict of interest. The same
day consensus was also reached on Paragraph 46 i.e. banning secondments
from the private sector, Paragraph 64*bis* i.e. allowing NGOs working on
global health issues to enter into official relations with WHO, and
Paragraph 69*bis* i.e. dealing with the implementation of FENSA in its
entirety.

Further, Member States also agreed to finalise a footnote to Paragraph 48
(a) (ii) on application of FENSA to external partnerships and allowing
regional committees to accredit international, regional or national
non-State actors for their meetings (Paragraph 55). Most of the post-lunch
session of the first day, including an informal discussion, focussed on
Paragraph 69*ter* i.e. the flexibility related to application of FENSA
rules in emergency response.

It is learnt that the second day discussion was only on two paragraphs i.e.
Norway’s proposal to amend Paragraph 27 on due diligence and risk
assessment and Paragraph 69*ter* on the flexibility for the WHO
Director-General to apply FENSA rules during emergency response.

On the third day, only three hours were spent on negotiating pending
paragraphs in the Private Sector Policy. During the second half of the
third day, Switzerland agreed to join the consensus on Paragraph 69*ter* (
http://www.twn.my/title2/health.info/2016/hi160412.htm) and the rest of the
time was spent on negotiating Paragraph 27 and the way forward.

Developed countries reopened the agreed paragraphs 17, 27, 32, 34, 35, 38
and 38*bis *citing cost effective implementation of FENSA. Norway proposed
amendments to Paragraph 27 (
http://www.twn.my/title2/health.info/2016/hi160411.htm) and the USA
proposed amendments to Paragraphs 32 and 35.

The proposal on Paragraphs 32 and 35 are as follows:

“32. Risks are the expression of the likelihood and potential impact of an
event that would affect the Organization’s ability to achieve its
objectives. A *risk assessment* on a proposed engagement is conducted in
addition to due diligence. This involves the assessment of risks associated
with an engagement with a non-State actor, in particular the risks
described in paragraph 8.[And it to be conducted without prejudice to the
type of non-State actor.]

35.       The Engagement Coordination Group reviews proposals of engagement
referred to it by directors and recommends engagement, continuation of
engagement, engagement with measures to mitigate risks, non‑engagement or
disengagement from an existing or planned engagement with non-State
actors.[In cases where the Regional Director or Assistant Director-General
disagrees with this recommendation, the final decision rests with the
Director-General.]

OR [In cases where there is a disagreement within the Engagement
Coordination Group, the engagement will not proceed] OR [In cases where the
Regional Director or Assistant Director-General disagrees with this
recommendation, the issue will be brought to the attention of the Executive
Board through the PBAC for the final decision.]

OR

Deletion of paragraphs 34 and 35.”

(PBAC is the WHO Executive Board’s Programme, Budget and Administration
Committee.)

Many developing country negotiators view the reopening of paragraphs as a
dilution of FENSA rules and also tactics by developed countries to block
progress in FENSA negotiations.

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