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The May 2010 adoption of the World Health Organization Global Code of Practice on the International Recruitment of Health Personnel created a global architecture, including ethical norms and institutional and legal arrangements, to guide international cooperation and serve as a platform for continuing dialogue on the critical problem of health worker migration. Highlighting the contribution of non-binding instruments to global health governance, this article describes the Code negotiation process from its early stages to the formal adoption of the final text of the Code. Detailed are the vigorous negotiations amongst key stakeholders, including the active role of non-governmental organizations. The article emphasizes the importance of political leadership, appropriate sequencing, and support for capacity building of developing countries’ negotiating skills to successful global health negotiations. It also reflects on how the dynamics of the Code negotiation process evidence an evolution in global health negotiations amongst the WHO Secretariat, civil society, and WHO Member States.

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Global Health Governance (Fall 2011),