TWN Info Service on Health Issues (Apr16/13)
29 April 2016
Third World Network

WHO:  Member States to finalise FENSA during May Assembly

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 38bis 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 64bis i.e. allowing NGOs working on global health issues to enter into official relations with WHO, and Paragraph 69bis 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 69ter 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 69ter 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 69ter ( 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 38bis citing cost effective implementation of FENSA. Norway proposed amendments to Paragraph 27 ( 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.]


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.