144th Session of the WHO Executive Board

24 January – February 1st, 2019, Geneva, Switzerland

Agenda 7.3: Engagement with non-State actors – Non-State actors in official relations with WHO
Responses to WHO Report EB144/37: http://apps.who.int/gb/ebwha/pdf_files/EB144/B144_37-en.pdf


A. Responses of WHO EB Participants

WHO EB Participants Responses Link

“We are both on supporting the need for WHO to engage with non-State actors and its work. However, one exception is the tobacco industry as noted by my colleague from Netherlands, Australia, and Panama. It is quite clear that WHO should not engage with any organization or foundation that is wholly or partly funded by the tobacco industry, even more so if it promotes the use of tobacco products… Hence, we call on WHO to reaffirm the position in a stronger stance in light of recent open letters sent to WHO and the EB.”


We would like to take the opportunity to make our position clear on a letter that board members received from the president of a non-State actor looking for interaction with WHO… We have concerns on the script of the organization called the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World… This foundation is strongly affiliated to a tobacco producer. We fully understand that the implementation of FENSA needs diligence and can be challenging. However, in this case, we can be straight forward if WHO should engage with this organization. FENSA and FCTC… give very clear guidelines on how to deal with this tobacco industry. We commend the DG and the Secretariat for the work and we encourage them to continue to have a strong stand against any interference from the tobacco industry. We support the further strengthening of FENSA in order to facilitate responsible and productive cooperation between WHO and NSAs.”


“I do want to note Australia’s firm belief that the 13th General Program of Work and the health-related Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) cannot be achieved without stronger and more systematic engagement with non-State actors. We acknowledge the progress made in implementing the FENSA but also the implementation challenges that have a reason. We look forward to the opportunity to address these challenges through the upcoming initial evaluation of the framework’s implementation and impact on the work of the WHO. As noted by my colleague from the Netherlands, it is particularly essential that WHO firmly hold its position against engagement with the tobacco industry and that this position is not seen to be compromised in any of its engagements with non-State actors.”


“We know about the open letter from the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World sent to this executive body and the executive body’s decision not to work with it. Sometimes there is a difference… a difficulty in interpreting the rules of FENSA when a new non-State actor comes along. We think that cooperation with WHO should be reviewed and refers to… if it could undermine the operation of the FCTC. We knew that we want a better synergy between the Conference of the Parties and the organization, but we think perhaps we need to look at Article 5.3 of the Convention and its guidelines. We need to consult with the Secretariat of the FCTC, the COP, and the MOP on keeping the tobacco industry out. We recognize and appreciate what the Director General has done with respect to the FCTC and both Secretariats when working with FENSA, but we need to step up cooperation to deal with this issue. I am sure that the Foundation’s letter will be rejected by this Executive Board.”



B. Response from a non-State Actor

Organization Response Link
World Heart Federation

“Thank you for the opportunity to deliver this statement on behalf of the World Heart Federation supported by Bloomberg’s STOP Initiative – Stopping Tobacco Organizations and Products (STOP), a tobacco industry watchdog comprised of the University of Bath, the Global Center for Good Governance in Tobacco Control, Southeast Asia Tobacco Control Alliance (SEATCA), and The Union. An open letter has also been sent to all members of the Executive Board.

We thank the Director-General (DG) for his report on the status of implementation of the Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA).

In their open letter to the EB, the Philip Morris-funded Foundation for a Smoke-Free World pointed to the DG’s report, which notes the difficulty of coming up with a consistent definition of what it means to be furthering the interests of the tobacco industry, and is using this to question WHO’s stance.

The WHO FCTC and the decisions of its governing body provide clarity on this – those who receive funding from the tobacco industry are deemed as furthering its interest, and this includes the Foundation for a Smoke-Free World.

In light of the global partnership initiatives to attain the SDGs, we call on WHO to take the lead in implementing the Model Policy for agencies of the United Nations (UN) system on preventing tobacco industry interference.

And with the aggressive networking of the PMI-funded entity, potential SDG partners/NSAs must be informed that WHO will not partner with grantees of the PMI-funded entity.

We look forward to supporting WHO in these efforts.”