Norwegian General Statement delivered by Director General of Health; Bjørn-Inge Larsen
Chair; Director-General; colleagues of the Executive Board; distinguished delegates:
1. Let me start out by congratulating all Member States and the WHO on the successful outcome of the intergovernmental negotiations on SSFFC medical products last week. The agreement reached is indeed important to advance the technical work of this organisation and for building trust among Member States. It should inspire us all to continue to work hard this week to make real progress on the reform agenda for the good of this organisation and its Member States.
2. Let me also express Norway’s satisfaction with the consolidated reform document presented to us. We believe that the Secretariat has successfully followed up the Executive Board initiative – as expressed in EB decision 129/8 – presenting us with a good platform for discussion. We appreciate that the document also reflects well the maturing of ideas and the proposals that have been discussed since the EB in May, reflecting the Member State driven nature of this process.
3. Chair; let me underline an important issue for Norway; there seems to be agreement among all Member states about the need to reform the WHO. It is also clear that there is support for the process we have embarked on. This is very positive. Yes; we have different ideas, concerns and priorities; both regarding procedures and content. Nevertheless the reform process seems to have broad cross-regional support. This week; the challenge is on Member States to provide sufficient direction for the next steps to be taken.
4. We have registered some concern that the reform process is going ahead too fast. It is important that we all reflect on this and on how this concern can best be addressed through the decisions we are about to make. Reform of the WHO requires broad support in order to be effective. At the same time, we need to ensure sufficient progress.
5. We have also noted that questions have been raised with regards to whose interests the reform process actually serves. Let me clarify to the Executive Board our view on this very important issue; while all the 194 Member States of the WHO should have an equal say in the work of this organisation; the fact is that today donors have a large de facto influence on the process of setting priorities for the work. We would like this to change; allowing for greater influence of all Member States. We need to strengthen the democratic dimension of the WHO by ensuring a stronger coherence between the priorities set by all Member States and the subsequent funding. The WHO is the only truly representative and democratically governed organisation in global health, and the WHO is uniquely placed to build trust and confidence among the Member States. This is what guides our overall engagement in the process.
6. Norway's focus at this meeting will be issues with regards to financial reform and internal governance. One of the obvious challenges facing us is the high number of proposals in the consolidated document, especially in the area of managerial reform. It is a challenge both to understand the implications of each and every proposal and how the different proposals are interlinked. Clearly; few proposals can be discussed in isolation. We still think that the document provides a good platform for discussion. Norway recognizes that it may be necessary to settle for parallel processes of different speed as we go along.