Written by By Ben Efe, CNN Berlin
The head of the World Health Organization is set to serve a second four-year term, after a vote to amend its charter was held on Monday.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the organization, the United Nations’ flagship health agency, was unopposed for a second term, with no opposition from countries representing nations who face adverse effects of climate change.
The World Health Assembly was expected to approve the amendment, which relates to the term of a new WHO Secretary-General.
Tedros, formerly the health minister of Ethiopia, was head-hunted to take the organization’s helm in 2014, and has held a number of key positions in both the Ethiopian government and as the Deputy Director-General of the WHO since 2012.
He rose to international prominence after attending the G20 summit in Hamburg in July 2017, where he stated that climate change was a “global health emergency.”
The 59-year-old’s re-election means he will continue to govern the WHO through 2020.
On behalf of all WHO members, the General Assembly welcomed his nomination, which required the support of two-thirds of the delegates present for it to be approved.
Tedros’ authority was further secured last month when he was re-elected as President of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) without opposition.
He was one of five candidates to secure a second four-year term at the helm of the Paris-based cultural organization.
Throughout his term at the helm of UNESCO, Tedros has been critical of the UK and Germany, who have accused him of imposing austerity measures that are harming UNESCO’s grassroots work.
He said the UK and Germany had maintained a “colonial attitude” towards the organization.
The support for Tedros’ position on climate change wasn’t unanimous.
The United States voted against the proposal, fearing it would detract from the work of the WHO and instead put the focus on global health.
“We believe that the focus on the global health of all is critical,” said U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley in February.
An editorial published in the United States Times, written by the then head of the WHO agency, Margaret Chan, criticized the proposal.
“Such a change may cause grave damage to the WHO’s actual functioning, and that of the global health community as a whole,” said Chan, who has overseen the organization since 2007.