Washington International Law Journal


Today, non-communicable diseases (“NCDs”) are widely recognized as a global public health crisis and a foreign policy priority. The international community was slow to identify and respond to the crisis of NCDs in the later part of the twentieth century. However, in 2011 the United Nations High Level Meeting on NCDs recognized NCDs as one of the greatest threats to health and development in the twenty-first century, and a major topic for the post-2015 development agenda. Notably, many experts, national governments, and global leaders have rallied for an inclusive, “whole-of-government” and “whole-of-society” approach, situating public-private partnerships (“PPPs”) with some of the vectors of NCDs, in particular the food and beverage industries, as the necessary strategy to address the issue. Although PPPs in global health are not a new phenomenon, PPPs with the food and beverage industries require a greater level of scrutiny and caution. The same level of vigilance should be applied when considering partnerships with the sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) industry, as in the tobacco and firearms industries, which produce goods known to be antithetical to public health. We examine how major SSB companies, such as the Coca-Cola Company and PepsiCo, have been viewed as legitimate actors and partners, despite employing coercive tactics similar to the tobacco industry. We question their assumed full participation and cooperation in global NCD initiatives and call for greater transparency in global NCD partnership development and policy dialogue, particularly in the implementation of the post-2015 development agenda.

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