The Constitution establishing the World Health Organization as a specialized agency within the terms of Art. 57 (of Charter of the United Nations) was adopted by the International Health Conference held in New York from 19 June to 22 July 1946, signed on 22 July 1946 by the representatives of 61 States (Off. Rec. Wld Hlth Org., 2, 100), and entered into force on 7 April 1948. Amendments adopted by the Twenty-sixth, Twenty-ninth, Thirty-ninth and Fifty-first World Health Assemblies (resolutions WHA26.37, WHA29.38, WHA39.6 and WHA51.23) came into force on 3 February 1977, 20 January 1984, 11 July 1994 and 15 September 2005 respectively and are incorporated in the present text.

A list of basic documents and their contents is provided at

For the integral text of the constitution, see:


The attainment by all peoples of the highest possible level of health (Article 1)



Membership is open to all States, with detailed provisions explained in Chapter III - Membership and Associate Membership.

Chapter XIV - Reports submitted by states:

  • Each Member reports annually to the Organizatino on the action taken and progress achieved in improving the health of its people. Art. 62
  • Each Member shall communicate promptly to the Organization important laws, regulations, official reports and statistics pertaining to health which have been published in the State concerned. Art. 63
  • Each Member shall provide statistical and epidemiological reports in a manner to be determined by the Health Assembly. Art. 64.
  • Each Member shall transmit upon the request of the Board such additional information pertaining to health as may be practicable.


The World Health Assembly, details in Chapter V, with voting procedure in Chapter XIII.

The Executive Board, details in Chapter VI.

The Secretariat, details in Chapter VII.

Committees, details in Chapter VIII.

Regional Organization, details in Chapter XI.

Other Organizations

Chapter XVI explains modalities for establishing relations with United Nations, other inter-governmental organizations, and for consultation and co-operation with non-governmental international organizations, and with national organizations (with consent of the Government involved).

See also Principles Governing relations between the WHO and NGO's.

Values & Claims

Budget and expenses, see Chapter XII

The Organization enjoys in the territory of each Member Legal capacity, privileges and immunities as may be necessary for the fulfilment of its objective and for the exercise of its functions


Article 2 allocates these functions to the WHO:
(a) to act as the directing and co-ordinating authority on international health work;
(b) to establish and maintain effective collaboration with the United Nations, specialized agencies, governmental health administrations, professional groups and such other organizations as may be deemed appropriate;
(c) to assist Governments, upon request, in strengthening health services;
(d) to furnish appropriate technical assistance and, in emergencies, necessary aid upon the request or acceptance of Governments;
(e) to provide or assist in providing, upon the request of the United Nations, health services and facilities to special groups, such as the peoples of trust territories;
(f) to establish and maintain such administrative and technical services as may be required, including epidemiological and statistical services;
(g) to stimulate and advance work to eradicate epidemic, endemic and other diseases;
(h) to promote, in co-operation with other specialized agencies where necessary, the prevention of accidental injuries;
(i) to promote, in co-operation with other specialized agencies where necessary, the improvement of nutrition, housing, sanitation, recreation, economic or working conditions and other aspects of environmental
(j) to promote co-operation among scientific and professional groups which contribute to the advancement of health;
(k) to propose conventions, agreements and regulations, and make recommendations with respect to international health matters and to perform such duties as may be assigned thereby to the Organization and are consistent with its objective;
(l) to promote maternal and child health and welfare and to foster the ability to live harmoniously in a changing total environment;
(m) to foster activities in the field of mental health, especially those affecting the harmony of human relations;
(n) to promote and conduct research in the field of health;
(o) to promote improved standards of teaching and training in the health, medical and related professions;
(p) to study and report on, in co-operation with other specialized agencies where necessary, administrative and social techniques affecting public health and medical care from preventive and curative points of view, including hospital services and social security;
(q) to provide information, counsel and assistance in the field of health;
(r) to assist in developing an informed public opinion among all peoples on matters of health;
(s) to establish and revise as necessary international nomenclatures of diseases, of causes of death and of public health practices;
(t) to standardize diagnostic procedures as necessary;
(u) to develop, establish and promote international standards with respect to food, biological, pharmaceutical and similar products;
(v) generally to take all necessary action to attain the objective of the Organization.

Compliance and Service Levels

For the parties to the agreement, and for the bodies established, how is their compliance or service expressed and ensured?

Competent Courts

Any question or dispute concerning the interpretation or application of this Constitution which is not settled by negotiation or by the Health Assembly shall be referred to the UN International Court of Justice in conformity with the Statute of the Court, unless the parties concerned agree on another mode of settlement.