Process to Elect Next Director-General of WHO Begins

Dr. Margaret Chan
Dr. Margaret Chan

The process to elect the next Director-General of the WHO is now underway. Member States can nominate candidates to be the new head of the global public health body.

It is the first step in the process which will culminate in a final round of voting at the World Health Assembly in May 2017, with the new Director-General taking office on 1 July 2017.

The Director-General is WHO’s chief technical and administrative officer and oversees policy for WHO’s international health work. The current incumbent, Dr. Margaret Chan (pictured above), was elected in 2006 and will complete her second term on 30 June next year.

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The process for nominating and appointing WHO’s Director-General has been substantially revised since the last election took place in 2012.

According to WHO, innovations such as a Code of Conduct and forums for candidates to interact with Member States will be part of the election process to promote transparency and fairness in the selection procedures.

The Code of Conduct is a statement of appropriate practices and roles for Member States, candidates and WHO Secretariat during the electoral process.

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It sets out a number of general requirements such as openness, dignity, equity and good faith, as well as specific requirements on issues such as financial disclosure and avoidance of conflicts of interest.

In 2017 the World Health Assembly will appoint the new Director-General from among up to 3 candidates. Previously, just 1 nomination was submitted by WHO’s Executive Board to the World Health Assembly who then made the final appointment.

Photo courtesy: WHO

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Rakesh Raman