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The Maastricht Diplomat

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[Reuters] Hardened fronts in WHO over proposal to implement Western veto powers

Discussions on digital health technologies turn to existential questions in the World Health Organization, as western countries push for veto powers on Saturday, potentially blocking life-saving aid.

Western countries like the Netherlands, Japan, and the United States, push for more control over the allocation of funds as they seek for “return on investment.” 

In Spite of its strong push for power, the Netherlands still aims to continue taking part in the global fight against diseases and for healthcare. “We need to put up a system [...] both for healthcare and digital infrastructure, because there are a lot of places that have neither,” the delegation told Reuters. Funding education was also an important step in helping developing countries, but ultimately developing countries should be able to stand without financial contributions from countries like the Netherlands. 

When pressed on its colonial past, the delegation of the Kingdom of the Netherlands stated that, “On the one side - sure. On the other side we cannot change what has been done in the past.” Whether the Dutch attempts at coming to terms with, and paying reparations for the atrocities it has committed in the past will persuade formerly colonized nations to support its position remains to be seen.

One African nation that spoke with reporters positioned itself against veto powers, but recognized its dependency on developed countries, who contribute a majority of the WHO budget. Ultimately this necessity for funding might allow nations like the Netherlands to find enough allies to pass a proposal for veto powers, experts remarked.

Estonia has positioned itself firmly against the move. The country, who has extensive expertise in digital health technologies but is lacking the financial resources that other western countries have, told Reuters that it could not understand why repeated proposals for better oversight have been ignored. “We believe that this is replicating power structures that have been causing problems in the world for centuries now,” a spokeswoman told our reporter. Instead Estonia pushes for more democratic institutions, “giving everyone an equitable voice,” for example by tying funds to the Gross Domestic Product of a country.

Experts on the matter have stated concern about the proposition to introduce veto powers in more international organizations. The Security Council’s permanent five members, who hold veto powers, had left the council unable to address many of the security problems that it debates, according to an expert who spoke to Reuters on the condition of anonymity.

EuroMUN Committee: World Health Organization (WHO)


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