21 Jul 2016
Mr Ulle Geir, JTI director of international trade, was to speak at UNCTAD’s biennial investment forum in Kenya on 19 July. However, as advocates pointed out in email messages to UNCTAD days before the meeting, it is highly inappropriate for the tobacco industry to speak at events focused on policy-making, for various reasons.
As explained in a letter to UNCTAD signed by two dozen FCA members, tobacco use is a barrier to development, costing millions of lives and billions of dollars a year. Strengthening implementation of the FCTC is one of the ‘means of implementation targets’ (target 3a) included in the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that were adopted in September 2015.
In 2011, the UN General Assembly recognised “the fundamental conflict of interest between the tobacco industry and public health”. This was a clear reference, by world leaders, to FCTC rules on protecting policy-making from tobacco industry interference.
‘Fundamental, irreconcilable conflict’
Article 5.3 of the FCTC, requires governments to protect “public health policies with respect to tobacco control” from the “commercial and other vested interests of the tobacco industry”. Principle 1 of Article 5.3 guidelines, unanimously adopted in 2008, states: “There is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the tobacco industry’s interests and public health policy interests.”
The UN Task Force on NCDs, of which UNCTAD is a member, is currently developing a model policy for United Nations organisations on preventing tobacco industry interference. The policy is expected to contain measures based on FCTC Article 5.3 and its guidelines.
In its letter, FCA called on UNCTAD, as well as other UN agencies and bodies, to help develop that policy, and to adopt it without delay. It also sought confirmation that, until such a policy is adopted, UNCTAD will quickly put in place, structures and procedures to prevent any tobacco industry employee or representative from acting as a speaker or participant at any event organized by UNCTAD.
- Support FCA’s letter by sending an email to UNCTAD Secretary-General Mukhisa Kituyi
- Read more FCA news about tobacco industry interference
- Help FCA do more advocacy work: Donate Now.