Annals of Health Law
MAKING A POSITIVE IMPACT
WHO is in a unique position to assume leadership in this area through the
establishment of a Framework Convention on Road Safety (“FCRS”).
While the WHO has, until recently, been reluctant to exercise its
lawmaking power, the reality is that the agency is an international lawmaking
body. Article 1 of the WHO Constitution sets out the objective of the agency:
“the attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health.”116 In
order to fulfill this objective, the WHO is vested with lawmaking powers.
Pursuant to Article 19 of its Constitution:
The Health Assembly shall have authority to adopt conventions or
agreements with respect to any matter within the competence of the
Organization. A two-thirds vote of the Health Assembly shall be required
for the adoption of such conventions or agreements, which shall come into
force for each Member when accepted by it in accordance with its
constitutional processes. 117
The Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (“FCTC”), which
entered into force in 2003, is the first such convention on global health to
have been implemented by the WHO under this power118 and may serve as
an example for the FCRS. The origins of the FCTC may be traced back to
1993, when a small group of scholars met at the University of California Los
Angeles to discuss the role that international law could play in addressing the
global tobacco epidemic.119 As eloquently articulated by three of these
central actors in a co-authored article, this bold vision to curb the tobacco
epidemic through a binding international legal instrument involved a long,
and often hard-fought, battle.120 The overarching objective of the FCTC is
stated in Article 3:
The objective of this Convention and its protocols is to protect present and
future generations from the devastating health, social, environmental and
economic consequences of tobacco consumption and exposure to tobacco
116. Constitution of the World Health Organization, Jul. 22, 1946, art. 1 (WHO),
available at http://apps.who.int/gb/bd/PDF/bd47/EN/constitution-en.pdf.
117. Id. at art. 19.
118. ALLYN L. TAYLOR & DOUGLAS W. BETTCHER,. WHO FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON
TOBACCO CONTROL: A GLOBAL “GOOD” FOR PUBLIC HEALTH, 78 BULLETIN WORLD HEALTH
ORGANIZATION 920-29 (2000), available at http://www.who.int/bulletin/
archives/78(7)920.pdf; JUDITH MACKAY, THE MAKING OF A CONVENTION ON TOBACCO
CONTROL, 81 BULLETIN WORLD HEALTH ORGANIZATION 551 (2003); see also WHO, PARTIES
TO THE WHO FRAMEWORK CONVENTION ON TOBACCO CONTROL (2012), available at
119. Ruth Roemer et al., Origins of the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco
Control, 95 AMERICAN J. OF PUB. HEALTH 936, 936-38 (2005).