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Part II Predominant Security Challenges and International Law, Environmental Security, Ch.32 Pandemics and Other Health Emergencies

J Benton Heath

From: The Oxford Handbook of the International Law of Global Security

Edited By: Robin Geiß, Nils Melzer

From: Oxford Public International Law (http://opil.ouplaw.com). (c) Oxford University Press, 2023. All Rights Reserved.date: 20 May 2024

Human rights — International co-operation — International organizations

This chapter traces the normative challenges underlying the legal framework for health security. Today’s challenges can be understood as the result of three successive stages of development in global health law. First was the securitization of global public health, whereby a diffuse group of international and national health officials, outside experts, and advocates worked to redefine infectious disease outbreaks as a critical national and international security issue. Secondly, this concept of global health security was inscribed in law through the 2005 revisions to the International Health Regulations, which adopted a governance framework that appeared to be deliberately modelled on domestic emergency powers regimes. Thirdly, this development, rather than settling the World Health Organization’s (WHO) authority in health emergencies, has in turn set off waves of contestation that concern the nature of global health security and how it should be institutionalized. This includes contestation about the internal governance arrangements within the WHO; external conflicts of jurisdiction between the WHO and other institutions; and disagreement about the normative orientation and scope of the WHO’s emergency power.

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