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Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and Queen Mary University of London

Brazil Accelerator Fund Application (submitted)

To mark the beginning of a new level of partnership, FGV, Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz) and Queen Mary University of London met on 29, 30 and 31 August at FGV headquarters in Rio de Janeiro, to define and launch a new strategic fund for the development of multidisciplinary research, the Brazil Accelerator Fund (BAF).

The project was submitted and accepted in 2023, qualifying for funding under the Brazil Accelerator Fund, within the topic of 'Decoding the Influence of WHO Standards in Brazil: A Multidisciplinary Approach'.

Project Summary

Successive health crises raised questions on the capacity to provide responses and adopt urgent measures at the global and domestic levels. Within international coordination in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Health Organization (WHO) played a key role by the creation of technical recommendations in collaboration with local governments. As the WHO consistently exercises its normative authority, more attention is given to the organisation’s normative technique and the apparent blurring distinction between soft and hard law commitments. In developing countries, the relevance of WHO law‐making function is notable. 

Considering the World Health Organization’s normative production to be its most prominent function, this project aims to apply statistical models constructed to describe the chains of influence between an international organisation’s normative instruments and the activity of different branches of a national legal system (knowledge gap). Such an innovative approach is envisioned by using cyclic direct graphical models to represent the various conditional probabilities, which encode the influence among distinct legal agents, and by allowing to establish a likelihood function that can predict the distribution of an IO’s influenced documents produced by each national agent.

Although unusual in the legal field, these mathematical models have been widely recognized in computational biology, public health care providing, and image processing, which ultimately led to the development of many distinct techniques for both inference and learning. Adjustments to the default graphical models can be made for a legal study, such as incorporating temporal dimensions and other concepts from natural language processing to precisely define the general idea of textual influence.


The suggested approach benefits not only from a mathematics-law interaction, but also from inputs of fields of research in which these techniques are often applied. The database to be produced will be available via the FGV’s Dataverse platform, providing for public access and use by other researchers and the general public. In collaboration with Queen Mary and Fiocruz, this innovative research project in the field of law, health and mathematics aims to evaluate the impact of WHO norms on domestic legal systems and to foster the development of multidisciplinary-empirical approaches in legal research.

This research project aims to: (1) evaluate the impact of WHO norms in Brazil’s legal system, (2) foster the development of multidisciplinary-empirical approaches in legal research and (3) create a sustainable transatlantic network of experts in the area.

A detailed work plan was developed to ensure the project’s feasibility. The following steps are foreseen in the project’s implementation plan: 

  • Qualitative research plan: undertaking literature survey on influence and impact in international law; defining the themes, sub-themes and time periods for the production of graphics; 

  • Quantitative research plan: carrying out a survey of WHO references in the Brazilian Executive, Legislative and Judiciary branches; conducting a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the collected data; developing natural language processing models for the classification of normative texts; obtaining data with the key words of each of the Brazil’s Federal branches; extracting material for qualitative analysis; 

  • Products planned: consolidating the results in the qualitative analysis on the data basis; writing an article on the research preliminary results and comparing the results of the model and the differentiation between binding and non-binding norms; planning and organising a seminar to present partial results.

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