Jul 02 2012

The Legal Structure of the WHO

This is a brief overview of the legal structure of the World Health Organization (WHO)

WHO is the directing and coordinating authority for health within the United Nations (UN) systems.   It is responsible for providing leadership on global health matters, shaping the health research agenda, setting norms and standards, articulating evidence-based policy options, providing technical support to countries and monitoring and assessing health trends.

WHO is a specialized agency for global health within the United Nations (UN) system that embodies the highest aspirations of the peoples of the world.  WHO’s primary objective is the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.

The relationship with the UN is determined in the provisions of the Charter of the UN, the Constitution of WHO adopted in 1946 and a formal agreement which provides reciprocity between the two organizations, the exchange of information, and the adoption of common administrative practices.  However the WHO is a separate international organization from the UN.

The WHO governance is structured with three bodies The World Health Assembly (WHA), Executive Board, and Secretariat.  The WHA is the supreme governing body comprised of 194 member states that meet once a year.  The WHA main function is determined by the policies of the Organization.  The Executive Board (EB) consists of 34 people who are technically qualified in the field of health and are designated by member states.  The EB main function is to give effect to the decisions and policies of the WHA and submits a program of work to the WHA for consideration and approval.  Lastly, the Secretariat comprised the Direct-General and the staff.  The constitution provides that the Director-General subject to the authority of the executive board is the chief technical and administrative officer of the Organization.

I am currently working in the Human Resource Management, Policy and Administration of Justice department (HPJ).  The unit is responsible for Policy analysis and development, Liaison with Common System, Staff Rules and Regulations – HR e-Manual, Administration of Justice and HR statistics, reports, data analysis and quality.  There are lawyers from around that world that perform these functions as well as appeals, grievances, and outside activity inquiries.

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