The challenges of the World Health Organization (WHO) begin, perhaps, with its name—framed as one organization, spanning the globe, and tasked with securing, as defined by article 1 of its constitution, “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health” (WHO, 1946). Yet the gap between the expectations of WHO and how global political actors have shaped its structure and its capacities is vast—never more so than during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is necessary to look at WHO from at least two perspectives: (1) its role as a scientific, technical, and humanitarian organization and (2) as an international organization and venue for international political negotiation, diplomacy, and policy-making. These two different, at times conflicting, missions leave WHO in a precarious position and have opened it to criticism over the years (Siddiqi, 1995). Some argue that WHO’s importance stems primarily from its political and agenda-setting functions, whereas others argue the technical information-gathering, standard-setting, and cooperation-related activities are paramount and that the agency’s political nature detracts from these activities (Clift, 2014; Jamison et al., 1998; Retreat, 1996; Ruger & Yach, 2009). There have even been calls over the years to split these functions (Hoffman & Røttingen, 2014).

Playing politics: the World Health Organization’s response to COVID-19

Singh, Renu;
2021

Abstract

The challenges of the World Health Organization (WHO) begin, perhaps, with its name—framed as one organization, spanning the globe, and tasked with securing, as defined by article 1 of its constitution, “the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health” (WHO, 1946). Yet the gap between the expectations of WHO and how global political actors have shaped its structure and its capacities is vast—never more so than during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is necessary to look at WHO from at least two perspectives: (1) its role as a scientific, technical, and humanitarian organization and (2) as an international organization and venue for international political negotiation, diplomacy, and policy-making. These two different, at times conflicting, missions leave WHO in a precarious position and have opened it to criticism over the years (Siddiqi, 1995). Some argue that WHO’s importance stems primarily from its political and agenda-setting functions, whereas others argue the technical information-gathering, standard-setting, and cooperation-related activities are paramount and that the agency’s political nature detracts from these activities (Clift, 2014; Jamison et al., 1998; Retreat, 1996; Ruger & Yach, 2009). There have even been calls over the years to split these functions (Hoffman & Røttingen, 2014).
9780472038626
Greer, Scott L.; King, Elizabeth J.; Massard da Fonseca, Elize; Peralta-Santos, André
Coronavirus politics : the comparative politics and policy of COVID-19
Kavanagh, Matthew M.; Singh, Renu; Pillinger, Mara
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11565/4050527
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