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Good morning, this is Kasmira. As the World Health Organization executive board meeting gets underway this week, one important area of focus is continuing reforms to the way it is financed.

And, looking ahead to the World Trade Organization’s next ministerial meeting in February, join us on Thursday at the Geneva Press Club to discuss what’s in store. Can trade ministers achieve meaningful results, or will its 2022 meeting, where milestone deals were made, prove the exception to the rule?

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Kasmira Jefford


On our radar

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WHO headquarters in Geneva, 22 January 2020. (Keystone/Salvatore Di Nolfi)

WHO gears up to replenish coffers amid tough outlook for health funding. After a milestone move two years ago to overhaul its finances, the World Health Organization (WHO) is gearing up for the next phase, with plans to raise $7.1bn later this year against a difficult backdrop for global health funding and the uncertainty created by the US elections.

Geneva Solutions

What to watch this week

MORE ON WHO'S MEET. The governing board will also discuss a number of key issues, ranging from sexual harassment, neglected diseases and Ukraine’s health system, but first director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus will present his report at 10 am today.

🗳️Nepotism, racism and a first. The board will also consider the appointments of three new WHO regional directors on Tuesday. The selection of Saima Wazed, the daughter of Bangladesh’s prime minister, to lead the South East Asia branch has already been mired in allegations of nepotism.

Meanwhile, Tonga’s Saia Ma’u Piukala, who has been tapped to head the Western Pacific office, will have work to do to restore trust among staff following his predecessor’s dismissal for alleged racism. The Eastern Mediterranean branch is on its way to getting its first female leader with Hanan Balkhy of Saudi Arabia.

CHINA ON THE HOT SEAT. Beijing’s human rights record will be examined by other states on Tuesday as per standard routine. While the exercise provides little time for states to speak, and China’s allies can be expected to hog the timer, it’ll be the first chance for the West to revive the issue of the mass detention of Uyghurs in Xinjiang after their failed attempt at putting China on the Human Rights Council agenda in 2022.

It’ll also be the first time Hong Kong activists see their plight addressed at such a level following the 2019 crackdown on protests.

On the offensive. China is already seeking to stifle criticism, suggesting to the UN “anti-China separatists” are not welcomed in the room, according to The Geneva Observer. Dozens of dubious Chinese Gongos, or government-sponsored NGOs, have also submitted reports praising China’s human rights policies or defending it against criticism.

🇸🇦Saudi Arabia also under scrutiny. Riyadh will also have a turn under the limelight on Monday when the country can expect to receive some heat over its death penalty, crackdown on civil society and unlawful attacks on Yemen.

– Michelle Langrand

Straight from Davos

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Sustainability, climate change and climate finance in deep freeze at the World Economic Forum annual meeting: a side event on Davos’ Promenade, 18 January 2023. (Geneva Solutions/Paula Dupraz-Dobias)

Move over, AI: climate finance geeks talk just transition in Davos. What a difference twelve months can make. A year after the United Arab Emirates topped the Davos guest list in anticipation of the Cop28 climate conference, climate change is still on the agenda at the World Economic Forum’s meeting. But it has taken a backseat this week behind the gathering’s focus on artificial intelligence.

After countries agreed to language in Dubai last month to transition away from fossil fuels in a just and equitable way, particularly to avoid sacrificing development in poorer countries, the question of climate financing is being re-evaluated. But just like any pointers on Klaus Schwab’s succession, the issue was barely detectable in official sessions at Davos.

Geneva Solutions

Join us!

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WTO 13th ministerial conference: believing in miracles. As states gear up for the major trade meeting in Abu Dhabi next month, wide divides persist on issues. With expectations weighed against the limited success of the last conference in Geneva, where key trade deals were struck, will the WTO be able to produce meaningful results or will it disappoint and further cement its reputation as an outdated and dysfunctional organisation?

Join our editor-in-chief, Kasmira Jefford, and reporter Maurizio Arseni this Thursday, 25 January, at 12:15 pm for a discussion organised in partnership with the Geneva Press Club.

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