The current article aims to undertake a retrospective and a prospective analysis of compliance monitoring under the International Health Regulations of 2005 (ihr (2005)). First, different theoretical understandings of compliance are discussed. The study then focuses on a ‘triad’ of obligations under the ihr (2005): 1) to timely and effectively notify the World Health Organization (who) of events that may constitute public health emergencies of international concern (Article 6 ihr); 2) to notify and justify additional health measures restricting international travel and trade in response to events elsewhere (Article 43 ihr); and, 3) to build minimum core capacities required to conduct pandemic surveillance and response activities (Article 5 ihr). The retrospective analysis revisits the fate of past and current mechanisms of compliance monitoring under the ihr (2005). Lastly, a prospective formulation builds upon the elements of the retrospective analysis, sketching a possible way forward for monitoring of compliance with the ihr (2005).
International dispute resolution not only aims to redress wrongdoings, but also to deter states from violating obligations. Approaching the International Health Regulations (ihr) from this viewpoint and using recent global health crises as examples, this paper argues that dispute resolution must be strengthened in the ihr in order to protect global health security. While a diverse range of dispute resolution mechanisms exist in other legal regimes, this paper proposes that a three-pronged architecture consisting of a guidance mechanism, formal adjudicative mechanism, and recourse to the icj and binding arbitration would provide for the most efficient and timely response to a dispute between states parties. Importantly, this architecture can be used both prior to and during a global health crisis, and could incentivize states parties towards solidarity in the global public health response.
Despite the pandemic’s widespread and transnational impact on human rights, both solidarity and human rights have been side-lined in key intergovernmental discussions on global health law reform to date, while conversations about the development of international human rights law seldom consider global health law’s import to the field. This article argues that in spite of states’ apparent reluctance to reconcile and harmonise global health law and international human rights law for fairer and more effective public health emergency preparedness and response, international law experts and practitioners are well-placed to indirectly influence normative development in this direction, drawing on their past successes in clarifying and elaborating upon informal international legal standards. Merging strengths from existing legal frameworks of global health law and international human rights law, such expert standard setting efforts can help reimagine a “progressively harmonised” framework of legal regimes for public health emergency preparedness and response.
The International Health Regulations (ihr), of which the World Health Organization is custodian, govern how countries collectively promote global health security, including prevention, detection, and response to potential global health emergencies such as the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. While Article 44 of this binding legal instrument requires countries to collaborate and assist each other in meeting their respective obligations, recent events demonstrate that the precise nature and scope of these legal obligations are ill-understood. A shared understanding of the level and type of collaboration legally required by the ihr is a necessary step in ensuring these obligations can be acted upon and fully realized, and in fostering global solidarity and resilience in the face of future pandemics. In this consensus statement, public international law scholars specializing in global health consider the legal meaning of Article 44 using the interpretive framework of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
The International Health Regulations (ihr), of which the World Health Organization is custodian, govern how countries collectively promote global health security, including prevention, detection, and response to global health emergencies such as the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. Countries are permitted to exercise their sovereignty in taking additional health measures to respond to such emergencies if these measures adhere to Article 43 of this legally binding instrument. Overbroad measures taken during recent public health emergencies of international concern, however, reveal that the provision remains inadequately understood. A shared understanding of the measures legally permitted by Article 43 is a necessary step in ensuring the fulfillment of obligations, and fostering global solidarity and resilience in the face of future pandemics. In this consensus statement, public international law scholars specializing in global health consider the legal meaning of Article 43 using the interpretive framework of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.