WHO’s Attempt to Navigate Commercial Influence and Conflicts of Interest in Nutrition Programs While Engaging With Non-State Actors: Reflections on WHO Guidance for Nation States; Comment on “Towards Preventing and Managing Conflict of Interest in Nutrition Policy? An Analysis of Submissions to a Consultation on a Draft WHO Tool”

Document Type : Commentary


Law School, Suffolk University, Boston, MA, USA


This commentary situates the comments submitted in response to the World Health Organization (WHO) draft guidance on conflicts of interest in national nutrition programs in light of: (1) WHO policies to protect WHO integrity; (2) the Framework of Engagement with Non-State Actors (FENSA); (3) WHO’s attempt to seek funds due to cuts in member contributions; and (4) attempts — often by corporate entities — to redefine conflicts of interest to avoid oversight of conflicts of interest and increase corporate influence. The WHO guidance defines conflicts of interest in ways that deviate from standard legal usage which confuses its analysis and facilitates the creation of conflicted public-private partnerships. The guidance suggests that nations can allow engagement with non-state actors when the benefits are greater than risks without separate check due to conflicts of interest. Instead, the WHO should have recommended that nations seek alternative ways to achieve their goals when non-state actors have significant institutional conflicts of interest.


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