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The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) was established in May 1965 through a resolution of the Eighteenth World Health Assembly, as an extension of the World Health Organization (WHO), after a French initiative. As a WHO Agency, IARC follows the general governing rules of the United Nations family. However, it is governed by its own governing bodies: the IARC Governing Council and the IARC Scientific Council.
IARC’s general policy is directed by a Governing Council, composed of the Representatives of Participating States and of the WHO Director-General. Its research programme is regularly reviewed by a Scientific Council. The Governing Council elects IARC’s Director, who normally serves for a five-year term.
In May 2018, The Governing Council elected Dr Elisabete Weiderpass (Brazil) as Director of the Agency, for a five-year term. She took office on 1 January 2019.
The IARC Governing Council meets every year in ordinary session the week before the WHO World Health Assembly. It last met on 16-17 May 2019 (Chairperson, Professor Mads Melbye [Denmark]), and the next session is scheduled for 11-12 May 2020 (Chairperson, Professor Mads Melbye [Denmark]).
The Scientific Council consists of highly qualified scientists, selected on the basis of their technical competence in cancer research and allied fields. Members of the Scientific Council are appointed as experts and not as representatives of Participating States. When a vacancy arises on the Scientific Council, the Participating State that nominated the departing member may nominate up to two experts to replace that member. Scientific Council members are appointed for four-year terms by the Governing Council. The purpose of this Council is, among other things, to make periodical evaluations of IARC’s activities, to make recommendations on the programme of permanent activities and to prepare special projects to be submitted to the Governing Council.
The IARC Scientific Council meets every year in ordinary session in late January-early February. It last met on 30 January-1 February 2019 (Chairperson, Professor Giske Ursin [Norway]), and the next session is scheduled for 5-7 February 2020 (Chairperson, Dr Christine Friedenreich [Canada]).
The Secretariat is the administrative and technical organ of the Agency. It consists of the Director and the technical and administrative staff. The Director of IARC is elected by, and reports to, the Governing Council. The Director is responsible for the development and implementation of the scientific programme and oversees the day-to-day operation of the Agency.