About WHO

Governance reform

Photograph of WHO headquarters

The evolution of WHO’s work and the increasing number of entities associated with global health has necessitated changes in the way WHO is governed, and the way WHO engages with external stakeholders. In this regard, WHO’s governance reform aims to strengthen both the internal governance of WHO by Member States, as well as the role of WHO in global health governance.

The proposals for change in respect of internal governance focus on improving the work of the governing bodies – the World Health Assembly, the Executive Board and the Regional Committees – including strengthening global-regional linkages. The fundamental objectives for the internal governance reforms are to foster a more strategic and disciplined approach to priority setting, to enhance the oversight of the programmatic and financial aspects of the Organization, and to improve the efficiency and inclusivity of intergovernmental consensus-building.

In relation to WHO’s engagement with external stakeholders, WHO is exploring ways to more effectively collaborate with relevant stakeholders including nongovernmental organizations, partnerships, the private sector, foundations, and other relevant stakeholders with a view to promoting greater coherence in global health. The challenge here is to determine how WHO can engage with a wider range of players without undermining its intergovernmental nature or opening itself to influence by those with vested interests. Moreover, governance reforms aim to strengthen the multilateral role of WHO and to capitalize more effectively on WHO’s leadership position in global health.

Reference documents

Sixty-seventh World Health Assembly (WHA67) and Executive Board 135, May 2014

134th Executive Board, January 2014

132nd Executive Board, January 2013

Consultation with nongovernmental organizations, October 2012

The Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly requested WHO Secretariat to present a draft policy paper on WHO’s engagement with nongovernmental organizations to the Executive Board at its 132nd session in January 2013 (WHA65(9)). As a step in developing this draft policy WHO consulted NGOs on issues concerning consultation, collaboration and accreditation

131st Executive Board, May 2012

Sixty-fifth World Health Assembly, May 2012

130th Executive Board, January 2012

Special session of the Executive Board, November 2011

129th Executive Board, May 2011

Sixty-fourth World Health Assembly, May 2011