Franko added: "Right now the tobacco industry uses its political and economic might to overpower the legal systems in, especially, smaller countries of the global South in a way that shifts the balance in its favour."
Not surprisingly, progress in moving towards implementation of FCTC Article 19 has been slow. At the recently held inter-governmental meeting of the global tobacco treaty (WHO FCTC COP6), a decision was made to extend the mandate of the expert group on FCTC Article 19. When seventh round of inter-governmental negotiations of WHO FCTC will take place in 2016, this expert group will share a final report on approaches that may assist governments to strengthen civil-liability mechanisms for holding tobacco industry accountable across a variety of legal systems.
Cloe Franko informed that in addition to the report, expert group of WHO FCTC Article 19 will also more importantly provide strong and concrete guiding principles that will enable governments to advance implementation of Article 19.
Yul Francisco Dorado, Latin-America Director, Corporate Accountability International, called for governments to ensure that WHO FCTC Article 19 remains central to 7th intergovernmental meeting of the global tobacco treaty in 2016: "We cannot delay full utilization of FCTC Article 19," said Yul in a session at WCTOH 2015.
It only takes one candle to light the darkness
Franko shared with Citizen News Service (CNS): "It can be intimidating for governments to consider litigating against the tobacco industry. That is why guiding principles and tools on Article 19 become all the more important for governments. Adjusting laws and legal systems, and sharing knowledge and expertise at the international level will help to ensure that the legal process against tobacco industry is not so overwhelming and costly. Recent progress litigating against the industry in Canada, though important, may be difficult to be followed by low- and middle-income countries. The Article 19 expert group has a key role to play ensuring support is available for countries to bring the tobacco industry to account for the harms it causes." As they often say in Abu Dhabi to reflect hope, "Insha Allah"!
Shobha Shukla, CNS
(The author is the Managing Editor of CNS and currently in Abu Dhabi reporting from 16th WCTOH. Follow her on Twitter: @shobha1shukla)
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