MMI Policy Dialogue

All UN bodies and agencies including the World Health Organization have a role and responsibility in supporting civil society participation, protecting civil society actors from threats and attacks, and promoting an enabling environment for their work at national and international level, according to an important new Guidance Note recently issued under the UN Secretary General’s Call to Action for Human Rights.

Different parts of the UN have developed different approaches to civil society engagement, given that the right to participate, enshrined in international human rights law, also applies to international organisations. Involving communities in identifying  needs and the most suitable responses is not only the right thing to do, it will also make efforts more effective and build trust, an indispensable ingredient for successfully combating a pandemic.

While this reality is widely acknowledged, the institutional practices of UN entities’ engagement with communities and civil society is not always consistent with the right to participate.

Looking back at the realities of civic space at the 74th World Health Assembly and related conversations with the WHO Director-General, this session of the MMI policy dialogues 2021 provided an opportunity to compare the practice of the WHO in the promotion of civil society participation with other UN bodies and agencies and with civil society expectations. Doing so, we tried to overcome a merely “technical” approach, linking procedural debates with unresolved underlying issues of democratic governance and power both within the UN system and in civil society.

Session documentation

Session overview

Speakers and presentations/inputs

  • Birgit Kainz, Civic Space Unit, Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
    Presentation: PPT as PDF
  • Brid Brennan and Gonzalo Berrón, Transnational Institute
  • Magdalena Ackermann, Society for International Development
  • Meg Davis, Global Health Centre, The Graduate Institute
  • Nicoletta Dentico, Geneva Global Health Hub and Society for International Development
  • Ravi Ram, People’s Health Movement and Kampala Initiative
    Presentation: PPT as PDF
  • Renu Khanna, Community of Practitioners on Accountability and Social Action in Health
    Presentation: PPT as PDF
  • Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, World Health Organization
    Video message: Dropbox
  • Thomas Schwarz, Medicus Mundi International – Network Health for All
    Input: Part 1 (Governing Bodies), illustrated  – Presentation:  PPT as PDF

…and watch the session recording.

Session contact

References and resources
…as shared by participants

Source: meeting chat
Feel free to contribute further references and resources to this collection.

MMI Policy Dialogues 2021

Monday, 14 June 2021, 14-16 hrs CEST
Business? As usual? Looking into the political economy
of digital health and international cooperation

Tuesday, 15 June 2021, 14-16 hrs CEST
Promote civic space at the WHO and other UN bodies and agencies
…and defend democratic multilateralism

Wednesday, 16 June 2021, 14.30-16.30 hrs CEST
Health systems torn between health security and universal access priorities
– implications for international cooperation?

Thursday, 17 June 2021, 14-16 hrs CEST
Health and climate justice: Transformative cooperation and healthcare practice

Overview: here