WHO FCTC as a Pioneering and Learning Instrument; Comment on “The Legal Strength of International Health Instruments - What It Brings to Global Health Governance?”

Document Type : Commentary


1 National Institute for Health and Welfare (THL), Helsinki, Finland

2 National Public Health Institutes (IANPHI), Helsinki, Finland

3 National Parliament, Helsinki, Finland


The World Health Organization (WHO) Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) is a unique global health instrument, since it is in the health field the only instrument that is international law. After the 10 years of its existence an Independent Expert Group assessed the impact of the FCTC using all available data and visiting a number of countries interviewing different stakeholders. It is quite clear that the Treaty has acted as a strong catalyst and framework for national actions and that remarkable progress in global tobacco control can be seen. At the same time FCTC has moved tobacco control in countries from a pure health issue to a legal responsibility of the whole government, and on the international level created stronger interagency collaboration. The assessment also showed the many challenges. The spread of tobacco use, as well as of other risk lifestyles, is related to globalization. FCTC is a pioneering example of global action to counteract the negative social consequences of globalization. A convention is not an easy instrument, but the FCTC has undoubtedly sparked thinking and development of other stronger public health instruments and of needed governance structures.


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