International public health law: not so much WHO as why, and not enough WHO and why not?
- 184 Downloads
To state the obvious, “health matters”, but health (or its equitable enjoyment) is neither simple nor easy. Public health in particular, which encompasses a broad collection of complex and multidisciplinary activities which are critical to the wellbeing and security of individuals, populations and nations, is a difficult milieu to master effectively. In fact, despite the vital importance of public health, there is a relative dearth of ethico-legal norms tailored for, and directed at, the public health sector, particularly at the international level. This is a state of affairs which is no longer tenable in the global environment. This article argues that public health promotion is a moral duty, and that international actors are key stakeholders upon whom this duty falls. In particular, the World Health Organization bears a heavy responsibility in this regard. The article claims that better health can and must be better promoted through a more robust interpretation of the WHO’s role, arguing that neither the WHO nor international law have yet played their necessary part in promoting health for all.
KeywordsInternational public health World Health Organization Regulation Law-making Ethics Values Norms
The author would like to acknowledge the valuable contribution of Dr. Graeme Laurie, Professor of Medical Jurisprudence, University of Edinburgh, and Director, AHRC SCRIPT, as well as the anonymous reviewers.
- Arai-Takahashi, Y. 2001. The role of international health law and the WHO in the regulation of public health. In Law and the public dimension of health, ed. R. Martin and L. Johnson. London: Cavendish.Google Scholar
- Brandt, W. 1981. North-South: A programme for survival—report of the independent commission on international development issues. London: Pan Books.Google Scholar
- Braveman, P., and S. Gruskin. 2003. Poverty, equity, human rights and health. WHO Bulletin 81: 539–545.Google Scholar
- Codex Secretariat. 2006. Understanding the codex alimentarius, 3rd ed. Rome: FAO. ftp://ftp.fao.org/codex/Publications/understanding/Understanding_EN.pdf.
- Committee on Economic, Social & Cultural Rights. 2000. General Comment 14: The right to the highest attainable standard of health. UN Doc E/C.12/2000/4, 11 August 2000. http://www.unhchr.ch/tbs/doc.nsf/(symbol)/E.C.12.2000.4.En.
- Daniels, N. 2008. Just health: A population view. Cambridge: CUP.Google Scholar
- Daynard, R. 2003. Why tobacco litigation? British Medical Journal 12: 1–2.Google Scholar
- Drager, N., and C. Vieira, eds. 2002. Trade in health services: Global, regional and country perspectives. Washington: Pan American Health Organization.Google Scholar
- Editors. 2004. Ratification of tobacco treaty needed now. Lancet 364: 1191–1192.Google Scholar
- Falk, R. 1999. Predatory globalization: A critique. Cambridge: Polity Press.Google Scholar
- Fidler, D. 1997. The globalization of public health: Emerging infectious diseases and international relations. Indiana Journal of Global Legal Studies 5: 11.Google Scholar
- Fidler, D. 1998. The future of the World Health Organization: What role for international law? Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law 31: 1079–1126.Google Scholar
- Fidler, D. 2007. Architecture amidst anarchy: Global health’s quest for governance. Global Health Governance 1. http://diplomacy.shu.edu/academics/global_health/journal/PDF/Fidler-article.pdf.
- Garrett, L. 1994. The coming plague newly emerging diseases in a world out of balance. NY: Farrar, Strauss & Giroux.Google Scholar
- Gostin, L., et al. 2008. Meeting basic survival needs of the world’s least healthy people: Toward a framework convention on global health. Georgetown Law Journal 96: 331–392.Google Scholar
- Gwatkin, D. 2000. Health inequalities and the health of the poor: What do we know? What can we do? WHO Bulletin 78: 3–18.Google Scholar
- Kant, I. 1785. Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals (edited and trans: Paton, H. 1964). Groundwork of the metaphysics of morals, 3rd ed. London: Hutchinson & Co.Google Scholar
- Labonte, R. 2003. From the global market to the global village: ‘Free’ trade, health and the World Trade Organization. Promotion of Education 10: 1–5.Google Scholar
- Lewis, M. 2006. Governance and corruption in public health care systems: WP–78. http://220.127.116.11/search?q=cache:Ejd-D-Z8SHQJ:www.cgdev.org/files/5967_file_WP_78.pdf+Governance+and+Corruption+in+Public+Health+Care+Systems&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=uk. Accessed 6 May 2008.
- McKibben, W. 2003. Enough. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
- National Intelligence Council. 2000. The global infectious disease threat and its implications for the United States, NIE 99–17D. http://www.fas.org/irp/threat/nie99-17d.htm. Accessed 6 May 2008.
- Polansky, L. 2000. The ramifications of population. ZPG Reporter 32: 5–13.Google Scholar
- Raskin, P., et al. 2002. Great transition: The promise and lure of the times ahead. Boston: Stockholm Environment Institute.Google Scholar
- Sen, A. 1999. Development as freedom. Oxford: OUP.Google Scholar
- Strong, M., et al. 1996. Connecting with the world: Priorities for Canadian internationalism in the 21st century. Ottawa: IDRC.Google Scholar
- Stuart, S. 2000. Species: Unprecedented extinction rate and it’s increasing, IUCN special feature. www.iucn.org/info_and_news/press/species2000.html. Accessed 16 August 2005.
- Taylor, A. 2002. Global governance, international health law and WHO: Looking towards the future. WHO Bulletin 80: 975–980.Google Scholar
- Taylor, A., and D. Bettcher. 2000. WHO framework convention on tobacco control: A global ‘good’ for public health. WHO Bulletin 78: 920–929.Google Scholar
- The Royal Society. 2006. Pandemic influenza: Science to policy. http://royalsociety.org/displaypagedoc.asp?id=22903. Accessed 10 June 2008.
- UN Development Programme. 1999. Human development report 1999. http://hdr.undp.org/reports/global/1999/en/. Accessed 17 August 2005.
- UN General Assembly Consumer Protection Resolution. A/RES/39/248, 16 April 1985. http://www.un.org/documents/ga/res/39/a39r248.htm.
- UNESCO. 2005. Explanatory memorandum on the elaboration of the preliminary draft declaration on universal norms on bioethics. http://unesdoc.unesco.org/images/0013/001390/139024e.pdf. Accessed 10 June 2008.
- Wallach, L. 2002. Accountable governance in the era of globalization: The WTO, NAFTA and international harmonization of standards. 50 University of Kansas Law Review 50: 823–865.Google Scholar
- WHO. 1990. History of the international classification of diseases. http://www.who.int/classifications/icd/en/HistoryOfICD.pdf.
- WHO. 2003. The world health report 2003. Geneva: WHO Publications.Google Scholar
- WHO. 2005. World health report 2005. Geneva: WHO Publications.Google Scholar
- WHO. 2006. Engaging for health: 11th general programme of work 2006–2015—A global health agenda. http://libdoc.who.int/publications/2006/GPW_eng.pdf. Accessed 17 January 2008.
- WHO. 2007. The world health report 2007: A safer future—global public health security in the 21st century. http://www.who.int/whr/2007/en/index.html. Accessed 10 January 2008.
- WHO Agenda. 2008. http://www.who.int/about/agenda/en/index.html. Accessed 17 January 2008.
- WHO Working Group Two. 2006. Draft paper: Ethics of public health measures in response to pandemic influenza. http://www.who.int/eth/ethics/PI_Ethics_draft_paper_WG2_6_Oct_06.pdf. Accessed 10 June 2008.
- WHO/WTO. 2002. WTO Agreements and public health: A joint study by the WHO and WTO secretariat. http://www.who.int/media/homepage/en/who_wto_e.pdf. Accessed 24 November 2008.