Special Feature: Process For 2017 Election Of New WHO Director General 01/02/2016 by William New, Intellectual Property Watch 2 Comments Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)The pressures of running the world’s highest profile public health agency in trying times (new outbreaks, mass migration and other challenges, with uncertain funding) could make the job of debatable attractiveness, but rumours in the World Health Organization hallways this week are that many possible candidates are likely to be considered to vie for head of the United Nations agency in Geneva. But the election process itself was just finalised for the changeover to occur in mid-2017, so it is too early to start naming possible candidates. The following is a look at the process leading to the next head of the WHO. WHO Headquarters, Geneva The WHO Executive Board, which met from 25-30 January, discussed the election process and made a small change, then sent it to the upcoming May 2016 annual World Health Assembly, which gets the yearlong process underway. The process will technically kick off this spring, probably April, with issuance of a call for nominations from member states. Submissions will be confidential and must follow a set of criteria set out in document A/67/51 [pdf], adopted at the 2014 World Health Assembly. In a first, this time, the full 194-nation World Health Assembly membership will select from among three final candidates. In the past, the Assembly essentially rubber-stamped the sole recommendation of the 34 members of the WHO Executive Board. The deadline for submitting candidates’ names is late September, and the list will then be announced by WHO. There is no formal geographical requirement but a general view among delegates is that there is an informal sense of geographical rotation. The existing director general, Margaret Chan, is from Hong Kong, China. She was first elected in 2006, chosen from among nine candidates after the sudden death in office of Lee Jong-Wook of Korea, who had served since 2003 (IPW, WHO, 31 August 2006), meaning the Asia region will effectively have had the office for some 14 years. The final selection will be made at the May 2017 World Health Assembly, and the new leader will take over on 1 July 2017. Chan, who served two five-year terms (DGs are limited to two terms) having run unopposed in the last election in 2012, will leave office on 30 June 2017. Chan will work with all three short-listed candidates from the January 2017 Executive Board early next year so the transition time will not be so short for whoever is chosen in May 2017. The final decision in May 2017 will be made in a “private meeting” by secret ballot using a new electronic voting system to be introduced and tested at the 2016 Board and World Health Assembly, according to last week’s approved document EB138/46 [pdf]. Here is the list of past WHO directors-general. Short List After the nominations are in, the Board will first remove any candidates if there is consensus that they do not meeting the criteria (see below). Then the January 2017 Executive Board will reduce the number of candidates down to three, to be passed on to the May 2017 WHA. To narrow the list, secret ballots will be used, and in each round Board members will choose five names. The name with the lowest number of votes, as well as any getting below 10 percent, will be dropped. Ten percent of the 34-member Executive Board is 4 members. The Board’s short-list of five candidates will undergo up to 60-minute interviews (30 minute presentation, 30 minute Q&A with Board members) and then the list will be cut down by secret ballot to three candidates, who will be forwarded to the WHA. Web Forum After making the list of candidates known in September 2016, the secretariat will “open on the WHO website a password-protected web forum open to all Member States and candidates who request to participate, and a request that Member States proposing candidates indicate whether the latter wish to participate in the web forum,” document A/67/51 states. Information about the candidates, such as their CV, will be posted there for candidates who request it. Candidates’ Forum A new feature in the process approved last week is a “candidates’ forum,” for WHO member states only, for the candidates to present themselves in person. It will be held be held no later than two months (likely November) before the January 2016 Board meeting, and will last a maximum of three days. Each interview will be 60 minutes. Travel support will be provided to the candidates for this event. The event will be webcast, but is only open only to governments – not to observers or press. A WHO official indicated that there will be no direct way for stakeholders other than governments to participate in the process. The final three candidates may be asked to address the 2017 World Health Assembly, before the final selection is made. Also this time around, candidates will be asked to have a compulsory medical exam. Special Leave for Internal Candidates The document also provides additional guidance on special leave to be granted to any internal candidates who are currently WHO employees, so they can campaign as necessary. Internal candidates will follow a code of conduct during the time, and will be granted special leave by the director general “so as to ensure a clear separation between any campaign activities and service for WHO.” Leave would begin after the deadline for submissions in late September. But as it will be a long stretch until the election at the 2017 WHA, candidates will first be asked to use up their personal leave, and then will be placed on leave with half pay until the end of the January 2017 Executive Board meeting, at which the list will be narrowed down. If any internal candidates are nominated by the January 2017 Board meeting, they would then be allowed leave with full pay until the WHA. Qualifications for the Job Think you’d make a good WHO DG or want to nominate someone? Here’s the official criteria from doc A/67/51): (a) a strong technical background in a health field, including experience in public health; (b) exposure to and extensive experience in international health; (c) demonstrable leadership skills and experience; (d) excellent communication and advocacy skills; (e) demonstrable competence in organizational management; (f) sensitivity to cultural, social and political differences; (g) strong commitment to the mission and objectives of WHO; (h) good health condition required of all staff members of the Organization; and (i) sufficient skill in at least one of the official working languages of the Executive Board and the Health Assembly The salary for the director general, according to document EB138/54 [pdf] (item I.12), as of 1 January 2016 was raised about 1 percent to nearly US$ 240,000 per year: “The salary to be authorized by the Health Assembly, as from 1 January 2016, would therefore be US$ 238 644 per annum gross, US$ 180 551 net (dependency rate) or US$ 160 566 net (single rate).” Image Credits: Wikipedia Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window) Related William New may be reached at email@example.com."Special Feature: Process For 2017 Election Of New WHO Director General" by Intellectual Property Watch is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.