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The Director-General position of the World Health Organization should not be awarded via regional rotation but merit (Alem Mamo)

Alem Mamo
November 14,2016

The 21st century is already turning out to be punctuated with political turbulence, economic uncertainty and social upheaval. In various parts of the world the struggle between the status quo led by a few and the marginalized people is taking unprecedented shape and form. While the determination of the people to make the world more just, more peaceful and inclusive intensifies, demagogues, proto-fascists and charlatans posing as populist leaders are appearing and attempting to appear on national as well as international stages. These peddlers of divisive politics are opportunistic career seekers whose values and ideologies are not in line with peace, tolerance and inclusion in the political, economic and social sphere. They incubate and hatch hatred and demagoguery that profits from the suffering and injustice of people.

We live in time of great challenges requiring mature leadership emanating from wisdom not just a university diploma amplified with sequential administrative resume. The troubling state of world peace, impending environmental catastrophe and economic disparity are three main issues facing humanity today. Effective response to these monumental problems requires our collaboration and collective action. Most importantly, our troubled world needs leaders who can see beyond their small stations and work towards a better world for all of humanity. Those who made their political careers out of slicing and polarizing people, promoting intercommunal violence hate and bigotry shouldn’t be allowed to get close to any international platform. Tedros Adhanom made his political career and rose to his current Foreign Minister status by taking part in a political ideology that made dividing communities, peddling intercommunal hate and violence its official policy.

The turbulence and discontent we see in Ethiopia today is the result of such a policy. Thousands of unarmed and peaceful protesters across Ethiopia have been killed, some by regime snipers positioned on roof-tops and high grounds. In addition, tens of thousands are rounded and locked up in prison camps with out proper sanitation, sufficient food and healthcare. Per the regimes own numbers, in the last month alone more than eleven thousand peaceful protesters were rounded up and sent to various prison camps across the country 1. Human rights organizations, both local and international, put the number of political prisoners in Ethiopia to be four five times higher. Tedros Adhanom represents a regime with a deplorable human rights record of mass killings. Promoting violence regardless whether it is done by the state or any other group it directly and negatively harms human health.

Furthermore, Tedros Adhanom lacks two key requirements that are crucially important for the WHO high post. The first one is all around experience with an understanding of the complex challenges facing the health of the world in the 21stcentury. More importantly, his personal and his Party’s ethnocentric views and ideologies are not compatible with WHO’s approach of looking after humanity regardless of race, ethnicity, creed or religious affiliation.

When asked about Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy for WHO top position, a front-line health care worker in Ethiopia said, “Tedros Adhanom is a member of an ethnocentric clique that promotes hate intercommunal violence and the domination of one group over others. Given this fact, his candidacy is incompatible with WHO’s values and missions of looking after humanity regardless of race, ethnicity creed or religious affiliation. In addition, Tedros Adhanom doesn’t even represent Ethiopia let alone Africa. There are such countless voices across Ethiopia and elsewhere frustrated with the fact that he is even allowed to put his name forward for this prestigious global position. An agency of a great global stature such as WHO needs a great leader and leadership that has the mind set of our collective humanity. Treating all fellow human beings with respect and dignity. This is a time for an extraordinary leadership, not just a meager self promoting pretender.

The argument that “its Africa’s turn” to run WHO is shallow and doesn’t even understand the complexity of the responsibility that comes with the post. If African nations want this high post, they should have identified the right candidate capable of performing at the highest level. Which I believe there is a long list of qualified and competent leaders across the continent. By supporting Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy once again Africa lost an important opportunity.

Finally, imagine for a moment if Joachim von Ribbentrop, Foreign Minister of Nazi Germany from 1938 until 1945, is competing for the same position. Imagine if Gian Galeazzo Ciano, Foreign Minister of Fascist Italy from 1936 until 1943 and Benito Mussolini’s son-in-law, was competing for the WHO top post. Imagine Idi Amin’s and Pol Pot’s foreign ministers are competing for this position. What would the international community do? Would it allow their candidacy to go through or would it be denied from the start? The people of Ethiopia who suffered under the reign of TPLF terror deserve an answer and will leave it to those who make the final decision on Tedros Adhanom’s candidacy.

The struggle for truly democratic and inclusive Ethiopia is at its final stage and the only force standing between freedom and the resilient and resourceful people of Ethiopia are Tedros Adhanom and his violence addicted TPLF. Global health cannot be viewed or accomplished through just a professional lens. Instead, it must be understood in a holistic manner including peoples right to live in peace with each other and in their communities. Promoting violence or participating in a violent and hateful ideology negatively affects human health. Tedros Adhanom’s career is built on advancing institutional and state violence. He is the embodiment of polarization and a messenger of a fragmented and divided world. It is beyond imagination how his candidacy got this far. Tedros Adhanom is not just unqualified, he is the wrong candidate for this prestigious and daunting task.

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Cover Photo : Tedros Adhanom
Source : VOA



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