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DECLARATION OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS OF LATIN AMERICA - CONFLICT OF INTEREST IN IDRC, CANADA. PDF Print E-mail
Justice News
Sunday, 20 June 2010 09:01

YUL FRANCISCO DORADO
show details 3:45 PM (1 hour ago)

DECLARATION OF CIVIL SOCIETY ORGANIZATIONS OF LATIN AMERICA - CONFLICT OF INTEREST IN IDRC, CANADA. 
Respected
PRIME MINISTER, STEPHEN HARPER
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS, LAWRENCE CANNON
MEMBERS OF THE IDRC BOARD OF DIRECTORS

 


Important tobacco control organizations have reported that the President of the Board of Governors of the International Development Research Center (IDRC), Ms. Barbara McDougall, was simultaneously working with the Canadian branch of British American Tobacco (Imperial Tobacco) in the position of Director of the Corporate Social Responsibility area (2007-march 2010).
IDRC is a government body whose main objective is to promote public health and  to fight against poverty. The conflict of interest involving the participation of Ms. McDougall in its Board also implies a clear violation of Article 5.3 of the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control (FCTC) that has been ratified by the Canadian government.
The guidelines for implementation of Article 5.3 of the FCTC state that there is a fundamental and irreconcilable conflict between the interests of the tobacco industry and those of public health. Therefore, Party States must reject associations and collaborative work with the tobacco industry, as well as guarantee responsibility and transparency in any contact or interaction between governmental agencies and the industry. In addition, the Guidelines clearly express that “Parties should not allow any person employed by the tobacco industry or any entity working to further its interests to be a member of any government body, committee or advisory group that sets or implements tobacco control or public health”.
The infiltration into IDRC´s Board by the tobacco industry is especially serious because IDRC not only belongs to the Canadian Government but also because it includes a special tobacco control program (RITC-Research for International Tobacco Control) whose mission is “to create a strong research, funding and knowledge base for the development of effective tobacco control policies and programs that will minimize the threat of tobacco production and consumption to health and human development in developing countries.”[1]
Organizations such as the Framework Convention Alliance, Corporate Accountability International, ATCA, CIET- Uruguay, Inter American Heart Foundation, and other Canadian and international institutions around the world have reacted to this conflicting situation. As a result, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has withdrawn all funding opportunities that it had offered for tobacco control initiatives in Africa through IDRC management. This was the first and positive outcome of this worldwide movement against tobacco industry interference in IDRC. Many organizations have also decided to and made it public that they will not apply for further project funding from IDRC.
However, despite all declarations against this situation, to this day IDRC has not expressed any will or intention of excluding Ms. McDougall from IDRC’s Board of Governors. 
The organizations that sign this declaration hereby commit to cease grant applications to IDRC as long as Ms. McDougall continues as a member of the Board of Directors. We therefore demand her immediate exclusion from IDRC and RITC. 
On the other hand, the signing organizations consider that RITC has been a very positive program for Latin America and the Caribbean. It has greatly contributed to tobacco control efforts and achievements in this region and worldwide. However, it is our position that if Ms. McDougall’s relationship with IDRC does not come to an end, organizations around the world will continue to sever collaboration relationships with IDRC, as indicated by the current trend. The ratification of Ms. McDougall’s position in the Board will result in very negative impacts on RITC and tobacco control in general. In the long term –ironically- this situation would benefit the interests of the tobacco industry.
Therefore, as members of the international tobacco control community we request that IDRC and the Canadian Government protect RITC, and we declare our full support to the program. Its work must continue in a wholesome, ethical and transparent way, for which the only solution is to end Ms. McDougall’s participation in IDRC´s Board. In the same way, a thorough investigation should be conducted by the Government of Canadá about possible tobacco industry interference with tobacco control efforts, as a consequence of its infiltration into IDRC, in solidarity  and conformity with the principles that underlie the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control. 
Finally, we regard this experience as an opportunity for learning a great number of lessons, particularly to increase vigilance, report other potential conflicts of interest that are unknown to day, and prevent tobacco industry infiltration in governmental organizations in the future.
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Comisión Nacional Permanente de Lucha Antitabáquica COLAT – PERU
Centro de Información y Educación para la Prevención del Abuso de Drogas CEDRO - PERU
LIBRE DEL TABACO – PARAGUAY
Liga Colombiana contra el Cáncer COLOMBIA
Fundación FES Social COLOMBIA
Coalición para el Control del Tabaco COLOMBIA
Campaña NoTabaco – COLOMBIA
Foro Aire Libre de Humo para Neuquén – ARGENTINA
Alianza Libre de Humo de Tabaco ALIAR – ARGENTINA
Fundación Interamericana del Corazón – ARGENTINA
Instituto de Ciencia y Tecnologia Regional ICTER – ARGENTINA
Asociacion Argentina de Tabacologia ASAT – ARGENTINA
Fundación Bioquímica ARGENTINA
Instituto de Cardiología de La Plata ARGENTINA
Consejo de la Tercera Edad de Berisso ARGENTINA
Club Almafuerte de Berisso ARGENTINA
Fundación Ecuatoriana de Salud Respiratoria FESAR - ECUADOR
Alianza Anti Tabaco – ECUADOR
Comisión Nacional para el Control del tabaco CONACTA- HONDURAS
Acción para la Promoción de Ambientes libres de Tabaco APALTA – HONDURAS
Coalición Panameña Contra el Tabaquismo COPACET – PANAMA
Coalición Salvadoreña para la Ratificación del CMCT – EL SALVADOR
Colegio Medico de EL SALVADOR
Red Nacional Antitabaco RENATA – COSTA

 

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