Can we trust the World Health Organization with so much power?

By | 20th April 2023

“Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely…”, observed the English historian, Lord Acton, writing to a friend in 1857. This widely-quoted aphorism should lead us to reflect on the absolute powers that the World Health Organization is currently seeking for its Director-General (DG). The organization has abandoned the broad, interdisciplinary, vision of health based on primary care and public engagement that characterized its original mission and was expressed in the Alma-Ata Declaration of 1978. What we now see is a top-down, command and control, approach, based on a narrow scientific base and the preferences, or prejudices, of a few major donors. This model has palpably failed to deliver in times of crisis. If the response is to strengthen the powers of command, can the organization be trusted to use these wisely, responsibly and effectively?

…Governments should not be signing up to the IHR amendments without a proper debate in civil society, informed by the social, political and socio-legal sciences of regulation and governance. Absolute power should not be given away in the moment of panic provoked by the pandemics of fear and action.

A Social Science Space blog

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