Members and observers

The original membership of the WHA, at the first assembly held in 1948, numbered 55 member states.[2] The WHA has, currently, 194 member states.[3] In addition, seven agencies have observer status at the WHA - the Vatican, the Palestinian Authority, the Order of Malta, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, and The Department of Health of the Republic of China, commonly known as Taiwan, was invited on 28 April 2009 to participate in the WHA 2009 as an observer for the first time since losing its China seat in United Nations to People's Republic of China in 1971. The invitation was extended to "the Department of Health, Chinese Taipei Observer status is a privilege granted by some organizations to non-members to give them an ability to participate in the organization's activities. Observer status is often granted by intergovernmental organizations (IGO) to non-member states and international nongovernmental organizations (INGO) that have an interest in the IGO's activities. Observers generally have a limited ability to participate in the IGO, lacking the ability to vote or propose resolutions. The United Nations General Assembly may grant entities observer status. The United Nations welcomes many international agencies, entities, and one non-member state as observers. Observers have the right to speak at United Nations General Assembly meetings, but not to vote on resolutions. Non-member observer states are recognized as sovereign states, and are free to submit a petition to join as a full member at their discretion. At present, the Holy See and Palestine are the only observer state at the United Nations, although Switzerland also maintained such status until it became a member state. Among others the Sovereign Military Order of Malta also have observer status, although not as a state but as an entity.[1][2] Observer status is granted by a United Nations General Assembly resolution at some point in time. Other international organizations (including other UN agencies) may also grant observer status. As defined in the World Health Organization (WHO) Constitution, observer status is a status which the World Health Assembly (WHA) may grant to "any organization, international or national, governmental or non-governmental, which has responsibilities related to those of the Organization." It allows representatives of the grantee to participate in meetings and committees held by the World Health Organization, without granting the right to vote. The State of Palestine, the Holy See, and the Sovereign Military Order of Malta currently hold observer status in the World Health Organization.[citation needed].From 29 November 2012, Palestine has also become a non-member observer state. [edit]Republic of China From 1997 to 2008, the Republic of China (ROC) (Taiwan) applied for observer status in the WHO every year, under different names including "Republic of China", "Taiwan Health Entity" and "Taiwan". All these efforts failed, mainly due to firm objections from the People's Republic of China (PRC) which does not recognize the ROC and considers Taiwan as one of its provinces. The Cross-Strait Relations (between the PRC and ROC governments) have significantly improved in 2008 and 2009, and the PRC government agreed to negotiate over this issue. On April 29, 2009, the WHO invited the Department of Health of the ROC to attend the 2009 World Health Assembly under "Chinese Taipei",[3] a compromised name which both the PRC and ROC accept. The World Bank defines a non-governmental organization (NGO) as "private organizations that pursue activities to relieve suffering, promote the interests of the poor, protect the environment, provide basic social services, or undertake community development".[1] An international non-governmental organization (INGO) has the same mission as a non-governmental organization (NGO), but it is international in scope and has outposts around the world to deal with specific issues in many countries. Both terms, NGO and INGO, should be differentiated from intergovernmental organizations (IGOs), which describes groups such as the United Nations or the International Labour Organization. An INGO may be founded by private philanthropy, such as the Carnegie, Rockefeller, Gates and Ford Foundations, or as an adjunct to existing international organizations, such as the Catholic or Lutheran churches. A surge in the founding of development INGOs occurred during World War II, some of which would later become the large development INGOs like Oxfam, Catholic Relief Services, CARE International, and Lutheran World Relief. International Non-governmental Organizations can further be defined by their primary purpose.[2] Some INGOs are operational, meaning that their primary purpose is to foster the community based organizations within each country via different projects and operations. Some INGOs are advocacy-based, meaning that their primary purpose is to influence the policy-making of different countries’ governments regarding certain issues or promote the awareness of a certain issue. Many of the large INGOs have components of both operational projects and advocacy initiatives working together within individual countries.