G2H2 Working Group “FENSA Watch”
In May 2016, the 69th World Health Assembly adopted the “WHO Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors” (FENSA). The Framework “endeavours to strengthen WHO engagement with non-State actors (NGOs, private sector entities, philanthropic foundations, and academic institutions) while protecting its work from potential risks such as conflict of interest, reputational risks, and undue influence.” (Source and further info: WHO)
The long WHO Reform process leading to the adoption of FENSA was critically followed by civil society organizations. In its critique and rejection of the WHO Secretariat’s proposals and of the outcome of the WHO member states negotiations, CSO advocacy included calls to strengthen rather than weaken WHO safeguards against undue influence from the private sector; to strengthen these safeguards by developing a comprehensive and effective conflict of interest policy; to fully protect WHO from the undue influence of venture philanthropy and corporate funding, and to protect the integrity of “Official Relations”. (reference/example: joint statement ahead of WHA69 as reported by TWN)
After the adoption of the Framework of Engagement by the WHA, civil society groups agreed at strategy meetings in January and May 2017 on the need to critically watch FENSA implementation and requested G2H2 to support this process by hosting a “FENSA Watch” working group open to members and other engaged civil society organizations.
Task, initial steps
In a first meeting in August 2017, working group members agreed that the following elements of FENSA implementation need our particular attention:
- Assess FENSA implementation tools – in particular: the FENSA handbook for non-state actors, the FENSA handbook for WHO staff and the register of non-state actors;
- Watch the admission of new non-state actors (NSA) into official relations with WHO and the review of the status of non-state actors currently in official relations;
- Watch FENSA implementation in partnerships and networks hosted or co-hosted by WHO.
While related watching and advocacy activities are expected to be undertaken by individual civil society organizations, FENSA Watch supports their work by:
- providing a space to continue the conversation and deepen the analysis of key issues of FENSA implementation;
- gathering and sharing intelligence about FENSA implementation and related instruments, processes and actors;
- supporting and facilitating specific advocacy interventions at the WHO secretariat, the WHO Governing Bodies, the WHO member states, and, if adequate, through public statements.
Collaboration tools and modalities
- FENSA Watch mailing list and list of members/contacts
- Virtual face-to-face meeting via video conference tool
- Collection of documents (references, advocacy interventions, working documents)