Think Global Health  |  May 18, 2022

Legal expert Lawrence Gostin, who is also an advocate for Russia’s geopolitical isolation, has noted that it’s not the first time a country was suspended from voting in the WHO. In 1964, just after it codified its apartheid policy, the WHO stripped South Africa of its voting rights at the WHA following a resolution by over 30 African and Middle Eastern states. Article 7 of the WHO constitution permits the suspension of voting rights if countries fall behind in paying their dues, or under “exceptional circumstances.” Although several Western countries objected to the resolution, citing the nebulous and ill-defined nature of the term “exceptional circumstances,” South Africa’s explicit policy of racial discrimination was determined to be in violation of the WHO mission. South Africa did not regain its voting privileges until the end of apartheid in 1994.

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