WHO’s “Bretton Woods Moment” Dimmed by Member States’ Reluctance To Pay Up More

Notes from the Sustainable Financing Working Group Meeting

In its first meeting during March 29-31, the intergovernmental Sustainable Financing Working Group at WHO, kick-started discussions on finding ways to fund essential functions in a flexible and predictable manner. It has also emerged that sustainable financing is a key objective of the proposed international pandemic treaty. Hence the deliberations of this working group will be crucial in setting the direction on financing and as a consequence, governance. In the early stages of this discussions, member states appear reluctant to pay up more in assessed contributions.   

WHO’s Sustainable Financing Working Group set up to find ways to fund essential functions of WHO is a sustainable manner, met last week for its first meeting. This was following a decision at the 148th session of the Executive Board in February this year.

According to diplomatic sources who were at the meeting, there was a recognition that the current pandemic had resulted in unprecedented economic crisis and health challenges, which need sweeping changes in the way WHO is funded.

Sources drew parallel to the current urgency, similar to the period following the Second World War which saw major policy shifts in monetary systems, and resulted in the creation of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. “There was very much a feeling of a ‘Bretton Woods’ moment – the notion that the world faces a situation similar to post-Second War” said one health diplomat in a conversation with Geneva Health Files, on the condition of anonymity.

There is apparent recognition that the system of financing of the WHO was completely broken and the pandemic should be used to “rethink how to rebuild.”

“It would be wrong to say that the system is facing challenges. They rather safe to say that it is completely broken. One needs to come up with a new approach and not merely adjust what is there. But the Working Group may not be able to find a solution, because there may not be enough political will,” the diplomatic source indicated.

Image credit: Photo by Ankush Rathi from Pexels


To read the full story, you will need to sign up to our newsletter and become a contributing subscriber. Our edition on Tuesdays, The Weekly Primer is free, while analyses such as this one, is behind a paywall published in The Friday Deep Dives.

Questions? Get in touch with us. [patnaik.reporting@gmail.com]

Leave a Reply