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WHO's diplomatic balancing act faces new challenge with Trump attacks (The Hill)

May 4, 2020

From the article:

“President Trump’s attacks on the World Health Organization (WHO) over the coronavirus pandemic are shining a spotlight on the diplomatic balancing act the agency faces as it struggles to navigate the interests of member states that are often working at cross purposes.

The chronically underfunded agency has been at the forefront of the global response to the pandemic, winning praise from public health experts who derided its poor performance just a few years ago during an Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

But many of those same experts say this pandemic has highlighted the fact that the WHO has few real powers. While it can use a megaphone to encourage member nations to take action, agency officials have almost no authority to enforce their guidance — especially when it comes to large nations like the United States or China.

‘The current governance situation requires the World Health Organization to maximize the agreement or assent of the most countries possible to the kinds of actions it takes. So it's always by necessity going to be the lowest common denominator,’ said Amanda Glassman, executive vice president and senior fellow at the Center for Global Development. ‘They have several strategies. One is buttering up, and the other is calling out and shaming…’”

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Executive Vice President of CGD, CEO of CGD Europe, and Senior Fellow