The international politics of disease reporting: Towards post-Westphalianism?
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Since the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2003, there has been much discussion about whether the international community has moved into a new post-Westphalian era, where states increasingly recognize certain shared norms that guide what they ought to do in responding to infectious disease outbreaks. In this article I identify this new obligation as the ‘duty to report’, and examine competing accounts on the degree to which states appreciate this new obligation are considered by examining state behaviour during the H5N1 human infectious outbreaks in East Asia (since 2004). The article examines reporting behaviour for H5N1 human infectious cases in Cambodia, China, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam from 2004 to 2010. The findings lend strong support to the claim that East Asian states have come to accept and comply with the duty to report infectious disease outbreaks and that the assertions of sovereignty in response to global health governance frameworks have not systematically inhibited reporting compliance.