New Powers for a New Age? Revising and Updating the IHR

  • Adam Kamradt-Scott


The WHO’s delegation contract with its member states to prevent, control, and ideally eradicate infectious diseases continues to exist as a fluid and malleable one. This is principally because, as noted in Chapter One, the ‘contract’ — such as it is — is essentially comprised of several provisions and stipulations laid out in a variety of documents, such as WHA resolutions and the WHO’s constitutive treaty. Within that array of documents, arguably there is none more important or as comprehensive in outlining member states’ obligations and the extent of the WHO’s disease eradication powers as the IHR. Originally adopted in 1951, the IHR have continued to form the centrepiece of the WHO’s disease eradication health-for-security delegation contract, principally because they represent the only international framework agreement designed to prevent the global spread of infectious disease while minimizing disruption to international trade and travel. Not long after their adoption, however, the IHR came to be viewed as ineffective and insipid, were openly derided, and were frequently ignored. In 1995 the WHO’s member states voted to revise and update the IHR. The process subsequently took over 10 years to complete, but following the passage of resolution WHAS8.3 Revision of the International Health Regulations on 23 May 2005 the revised IHR entered into force on 15 June 2007.


Member State Disease Outbreak Public Health Emergency Revision Process State Sovereignty 
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Copyright information

© Adam Kamradt-Scott 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Adam Kamradt-Scott
    • 1
  1. 1.University of SydneyAustralia

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