Towards a healthy world : By co-operation or coercion?

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Title: Towards a healthy world : By co-operation or coercion?
Author: Lindqvist, Jonna
Other contributor: Helsingin yliopisto, Oikeustieteellinen tiedekunta
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Law
Helsingfors universitet, Juridiska fakulteten
Publisher: Helsingfors universitet
Date: 2014
Language: eng
Thesis level: master's thesis
Discipline: International law
Kansainvälinen oikeus
Abstract: Compliance is central to international law’s role in regulating the interactions of states. The rule of law requires compliance in order to be effective and makes compliance matter of international concern. State compliance is one of the most central questions in international law but despite the both practical and fundamental importance of the question, legal scholarship is still missing a satisfactory theory why and when states comply or do not comply with international law. International law like most laws is often obeyed but not enforced. It would be a fair assumption that parties’ interests are served by entering into the treaty and the existence of legally binding obligation translates into a presumption of compliance. However, the reasons for state compliance vary. Maybe surprisingly, the fear of official sanctions is rarely the reason for compliance. International law unlike domestic laws often lacks an official enforcement mechanism. This naturally creates a question, how binding is a law without enforcement? International health law has been viewed as ineffective in many senses of the word. In a legal sense when states failure to comply with their legal obligations and in a behavioral sense when states failure to change their own behavior as a result of a treaty, and also in a practical sense due to a treaty’s failure to accomplish its objectives. However the importance on human health shouldn’t need highlighting and in a global world public health is no longer just a domestic issue. If states choose to disobey their international health obligations, we are not talking about just a breach of agreement, but a health emergency that can affect millions of human lives. The International Health Regulations was renewed in 2005, but states are still showing reluctance to make global health governance less limited, more effective, and the World Health Organization is experiencing difficulties in enforcing the IHR in each contented area. Although the member states are legally bound to the IHR and the new IHR contains binding limits on the types of health measures states parties can take against public health risks, WHO still has no power to force states to comply with their IHR obligations. If WHO estimates that there is a poor cause to justify state’s actions, it can publicly comment state’s actions. The 2009 H1N1-pandemic was the first pandemic for forty years and the first true test for the revised Regulations, and the strengths and weaknesses of the Regulations are demonstrated in national responses to the 2009 pandemic. A major issue is whether effectiveness of the agreement depends upon enforcement mechanism and if an agreement can be effective without an enforcements mechanism, and if there is one, how will it work and is there a risk for back-firing? The new IHR is a binding treaty, but without an effective enforcement mechanism it is not a very strong one. Can a weak treaty have a strong future?

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