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Process to elect next Director-General of WHO begins

News release

The process to elect the next Director-General of the WHO is now underway. As of today, Member States can nominate candidates to be the new head of the global public health body, the first step in a rigorous process which will culminate in a final round of voting at the World Health Assembly in May 2017, with the new Director-General taking office on 1 July 2017.

The Director-General is WHO’s chief technical and administrative officer and oversees policy for WHO’s international health work. The current incumbent, Dr Margaret Chan, was elected in 2006 and will complete her second term on 30 June next year.

The process for nominating and appointing WHO’s Director-General has been substantially revised since the last election took place in 2012. Innovations such as a Code of Conduct and forums for candidates to interact with Member States will be part of the election process to promote transparency and fairness in the selection procedures.

The Code of Conduct is a statement of appropriate practices and roles for Member States, candidates and WHO Secretariat during the electoral process. It sets out a number of general requirements such as openness, dignity, equity and good faith, as well as specific requirements on issues such as financial disclosure and avoidance of conflicts of interest.

In 2017 the World Health Assembly will appoint the new Director-General from among up to 3 candidates. Previously, just 1 nomination was submitted by WHO’s Executive Board to the World Health Assembly who then made the final appointment.

Election process

The process of electing a new Director-General takes more than 1 year, and key steps going forward are as follows:

  • Member States will have until 22 September 2016 to submit proposals for nominations to the post of Director-General, at which point the names of the candidates and their proposers will be made public.
  • In October, Member States and candidates will be given the opportunity to interact in a password-protected web forum hosted on the WHO website.
  • In November, over a period of up to 3 days, a live forum will be held, at which candidates will present their vision to WHO Member States and will also be able to answer questions on their candidacy.
  • In January 2017, WHO’s Executive Board will use a new electronic voting system to draw up a short list of up to 5 candidates. Executive Board members will then interview these candidates and nominate up to 3 of them to go forward to the World Health Assembly in May 2017.
  • At the World Health Assembly, Member States will vote in a new Director-General, who will take office on 1 July 2017.

Note to editors

The World Health Assembly is the decision-making body of WHO. It is attended by delegations from all WHO Member States and focuses on a specific health agenda prepared by the Executive Board. The main functions of the World Health Assembly are to determine the policies of the Organization, appoint the Director-General, supervise financial policies, and review and approve the proposed programme budget.

The Executive Board is composed of 34 technically qualified members elected for 3-year terms. The Board meets twice a year: in January, when the members agree upon the agenda and the resolutions to be considered by the World Health Assembly, and again in May following the Assembly.

Further information:

Media contacts:

Fadéla Chaib
WHO Spokesperson
WHO Department of Communications

Email: chaibf@who.int
Tel: +41 22 791 32 28
Mobile: +41 79 475 55 56