During the annual World Health Assembly (WHA), WHO ambassadors debate and negotiate on behalf of their country or region’s interests and position, but they are not the only players in the WHO decision-making process. Further complicating this process are the conflicting interests of non-governmental organizations (NGO’s) aiming to direct the resolution towards their mission statement, pharmaceutical companies trying to maximize medication sales, and the press leaking news and taking a stand on them.
Responsible for facilitating and creating an overview of the decision-making process are vice-chairs and secretaries whose roles will also be assigned by participants.
When you register for NorWHO 2020, you will be asked to prioritize the roles you would prefer to have assigned during the conference. Following is a short description of each:
Member State Ambassador
As a country’s ambassador to the WHO, you will represent and act on behalf of the interests of a UN member state. You will attend in regional meetings with delegates from member states located in the same region and plenaries with delegates from all over the world, and it is your job to ensure that your country’s interests are heard and implemented in the final resolution.
Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)
As the representative of an NGO, it is your job to lobby towards the public awareness and accomplishment of your interests and make sure that they make it all the way into the final resolution. This role will be likely to make you discover the art and power of advocacy and persuasion.
Pharmaceutical Company Representative
Assuming the role of a larger pharmaceutical company you will become familiar with their point of view and its different aspects and it is your job to make them appear in the implemented policies. You will likely be confronted with prejudices that people have against pharmaceuticals, which requires you to make your case even more convincing.
Member of the Press
Working with the press e.g. as a journalist you will cover the news on global health issues and angle them with the purposes of: highlighting a particular position on current events; confronting, questioning or stimulating interests from delegates; influencing public opinion. Furthermore, you will also be in charge of the daily press conference, where you will interview WHO ambassadors from different regions.
The chairs and vice-chairs are responsible for the regional meetings and plenaries to run smoothly and efficiently. The chairs facilitate the discussion and decision-making processes during regional blocks and plenaries and manage the speaker’s list.
The vice-chair will keep track of the agenda, help out the chair with uncertainties, take notes, take the chair’s position in some situations (e.g. if the chair is not present), watch the time and make sure that everyone is heard and the procedure is followed correctly.
The success of the meeting depends on how well you manage to follow the agenda, listen to every country, and eventually suggest decisions that all or the majority of countries can agree upon in a smooth and structured way, but without disturbing the process with your personal opinion. If you are interested in the role as vice-chair you will have to add a few lines to your registration about your experience with WHO-work or participation at similar meetings that qualify you for holding this position.
The secretary is responsible for the written work of the regional meetings and plenaries. It is of crucial importance to the negotiation process that the documents are properly written and put into the correct format, and thus the role of the secretaries is vital to the success of NorWHO. During the meetings, all proposals and decisions will have to be written down. After each session, you will gather all the proposals and form them into a draft resolution, which will serve as the basis for negotiation and be voted upon during the following session.
Eventually, every region will have its own draft resolution covering the main topics regarding climate change and health and will be put together into a document for the plenary sessions. The regional secretaries do the above-mentioned and they will have to decide what phrases need to be voted upon individually and what paragraphs can be voted upon as a whole.
The overall aim for the secretaries is to cover all regions’ positions in the document to avoid too many complications and further contributions during plenary. This will make plenary run uncomplicated and ensure that global health decisions are made in a proper manner.