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Part II Practice—Scholarly and Practitioner Accounts of UN Treaty-Making, B Economic and Social Development, Ch.17B Health: practitioner comment

Gian Luca Burci

From: The Oxford Handbook of United Nations Treaties

Simon Chesterman, David M. Malone, Santiago Villalpando

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 17 April 2024

This chapter provides an overview of the conception, negotiation, and normative development of the WHO Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) based on the professional experience of the author, a former Legal Counsel of WHO. The FCTC must be appreciated against the background of the normative role of WHO and its reluctance to use international lawmaking as a tool for global health governance. The FCTC is a groundbreaking instrument for the protection and promotion of public health; it was conceived as a framework convention in order to accommodate diverse regulatory measures at national and international levels and to create a normative space to facilitate progressive agreement on evidence-based interventions. The negotiation of the convention as well as of its Protocol on Illicit Trade in Tobacco Products was influenced by the relative lack of treaty-making experience on the part of public health officials in national delegations and by the uncompromising hostility of the tobacco control community against the tobacco industry. The resulting tension with strong commercial interests linked to tobacco trade led to a number of difficult and sometimes awkward compromises. At the same time, it led to the establishment of a strong institutional framework that has been instrumental in developing the FCTC through the adoption of far-reaching guidelines and the monitoring of compliance. Notwithstanding its success, there has been no serious discussion in WHO on the negotiation of new conventions, and the FCTC may remain an isolated achievement enabled by a unique set of circumstances.

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