segunda-feira, outubro 23, 2006

Eleições na OMS

Dear Minister Correia de Campos

Election of WHO Director-General

Following the tragic death of Dr Lee Jong-wook, we are taking this opportunity to write to you about the election of the next Director-General of the World Health Organization in November 2006. We are a diverse international group of organizations and individuals, including donors, academics, NGOs, community groups and health care professionals. We all share a concern for global health, especially the health of the world's poorest people.

WHO is responsible for upholding the right to health of more than six billion people. Fundamental democratic values such as transparency should therefore underlie this election. At present, however, the election process does not uphold these values (as defined in article 31[7] of the WHO constitution, and by Rule 52 of the Rules of Procedure of the Executive Board).

Two concerns stand out in particular:
· None of the Executive Board discussions during the election process are held in public, and voting is by secret ballot.
· All Executive Board members are officially representatives of their respective governments. Some have no public health background, and political agendas easily dominate. The Board itself has only 32 members, leaving 160 UN member states unrepresented in the process.

Past elections for the post of Director-General have raised many concerns about procedures, including allegations of improper pressures put on countries to back certain candidates; a voting process that skews results perversely towards weaker candidates; candidates themselves making promises that do not meet global health needs or WHO priorities; and lack of access for the public at large to join the debate.

In your capacity as Health Minister of a UN member state, we urge you to use your influence to highlight the problems with the present system, and encourage the adoption of a more transparent and equitable process. The options need to be debated: requiring candidates to publish and widely circulate manifestos and make themselves available for public debate would be a good start. Reform of the electoral process should also be discussed, including moving to an open ballot and widening the franchise to include a broader range of member states.

We also respectfully propose that all Ministers of Health discuss in advance their reasons for backing certain candidates with relevant civil society organizations in their own countries, or at least discuss the key attributes they seek in a Director-General. This would uphold the WHO constitution, which states that “informed opinion and active co-operation on the part of the public are of the utmost importance in the improvement of the health of the people.” It would also promote a key aspect of the right to health identified by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in a recent General Comment – the participation of the population in all health-related decision-making, including at the international level.

As organizations especially concerned with the health of the poor, we believe WHO should represent the interests of the least powerful – by definition those most likely to have their right to health denied. It is therefore vital that the Director-General is selected on his or her ability to be accountable to the vulnerable in an increasingly unequal world, and to lead the changes needed to improve global health. We ask countries to consider that the selection of such a leader would, in the longer term, confer more benefits on all countries (including your own) than the shorter-term advantages that many often believe to accrue from selecting a candidate according to more self-interested criteria.

Without a transparent election process it is extremely difficult to make progress towards these goals. Our suggestions may not influence the current election process, but we would welcome your comments. We hope that you will be able to discuss them with your colleagues when you gather in Geneva in November. Steps could also be initiated then to set long overdue electoral reforms in train that would be in place for subsequent elections.

Yours sincerely,
GAT - Grupo Português de Activistas sobre Tratamentos de VIH/SIDA

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