Like other world organisations born from the ashes of the war of 1940-45 (the WTO, successor to GATT, the IMF, the UN, successor to the League of Nations), the WHO is a sort of transnational superministry, in this case for health.
Its power overrides that of its national equivalents. It is not subjected to genuinely democratic electoral procedures, in the sense of representing the choice expressed by the populations of its member countries. This is true of all these organisations that in fact control our daily lives in their respective fields. Its constitution came into force on 7 April 1948.
All these organisations are in a way like the arms, the tentacles of an enormous octopus whose purpose is to coordinate, improve and reinforce significant action on a planetary scale.
To clarify a crucial point: it would be misleading to think that these organisations undertake anything at all independently of each other. One could as well imagine that the liver can go on doing its own thing without being at all involved with the heart or the kidneys.
All of them work towards the same goals, each in their own specialist sphere, and all of them answer to the UN and to those who provide their funding.
If you go to the official WHO site, you will of course get the impression that this organisation has a spotless record, and deserves to be praised for its humanitarian deeds.
It’s a bit like Monsanto, this multinational that dominates the market in agribusiness and wants to impose on the whole world its GM seeds complete with the Terminator gene (1), yet which tries to make you believe that the well-being and development of poor countries is its main concern.
Anyway, as in any court of law, it’s democratic, enlightened, modern, to give the “accused” party the chance to put its case.
As for the accusations of corruption and collusion with the pharmaceutical companies in the context of the worldwide vaccination campaign of 2009, it is Margaret Chan in person who has stepped up to the plate to defend the reputation of the WHO.
It’s important to realise that the accusations are weighty, well argued,