Item 12.5: Strengthening synergies between the World Health Assembly and the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control

Last updated: 09.06.2016 //                             

The framework convention on tobacco control was created by the Health Assembly. Advancing the tobacco control agenda has always been central to the Assembly’s work. Reduction in tobacco consumption is arguably the single most important contribution to achievement of the NCD goals and therefore also essential to the 2030 SDG agenda. We commend the secretariat report for making these connections clear.

We also underline the need for increased political commitment to strengthen implementation of FCTC measures. At the Conferences of the Parties, we have always supported initiatives to strengthen collaboration between the secretariats of the FCTC and WHO.

However, in wanting to strengthen synergies between the COP and the Assemblys, we also need to be sure we take the right steps at the right time. We believe the draft resolution proposed by the Secretariat raises important governance related issues that deserve closer scrutiny, including the following;

the proposal is not clear on who should present a report to the WHA and what it should contain

secondly, the draft indicates that there will be resolutions and decisions adopted by the WHA that are relevant to tobacco control policies. It is not clear to us whether this includes issues related to FCTC implementation. This again raises fundamental questions regarding which is the competent body for adopting resolutions in relation to FCTC implementation; the COP or the WHA. And it introduces the possibility of allowing WHO Member States not Parties to FCTC to obtain influence on interpretation of the convention, including its implementation.

Chairman; while we fully share the objective behind the proposal for strengthening synergies, we believe the draft resolution before us raises questions that merits further consideration. Issues that relate to FCTC implementation is in our view a prerogative of the COP. We want to protect the sovereignty of the COP to make its own decisions in this regard and we believe that the COP should be allowed to discuss these issues before the WHA subsequently takes a decicsion.

We therefore propose to amend the draft resolution, replacing operative paragraphs 1 and 2 in the draft with 2 new OPs as follows:

to invite the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control to consider the provision of a report for information to the World Health Assembly on the outcomes of the Conference of the Parties to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control and the modalities relating to the presentation of such a report, and to consider whether to invite the WHA to provide a report for information on relevant tobacco-related actions; and

to include a report on the outcome of the 7th session of the COP in the provisional agenda of the 70th World Health Assembly as a separate agenda item;

Chairman; this proposal will allow for allow for a necessary COP discussion and decision before the WHA considers the issue.  One year from now, the WHA will be free to make any decision it may wish on the matter. The proposal has already been discussed with a number of Member States. We hope it will receive the support from the Committee.