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International Health Governance

Ambulance being dispatched to westren area of Freetown, Sierra Leone to attend a suspected case of Ebola. The cleaner disinfects the house of the susptected case with chlorinated water. Photo by UNMEER/Martine Perret. 15 December 2014

The recent Ebola crisis that shook West Arica, exceeded any previous Ebola epidemic and later was declared a pandemic by the WHO not only stretched local health care systems, but also revealed deep structural deficiencies in the international response to health issues of such a scale. The outbreak of this virus that crossed boarders easily and cost the lives of so many people raises fundamental questions regarding the actors and legal mechanisms designed and applied to manage the outbreak of highly infectious diseases.

These questions were at the heart of a workshop on “International Health Governance of Disease Outbreaks” which took place from 3-4 March 2016 at the Max-Planck-Institute for Comparative Public and International Law in Heidelberg. We are delighted to host a series of contributions that were presented and discussed during the workshop. Michael Marx, a specialist on public health, will open the symposium with a non-legal view on some aspects of the Ebola crisis. Robert Frau then examines ways to address shortcomings in states’ adherence to recommendations of the WHO. Edefe Ojomo highlights the role of regional organizations and especially the West African Health Organization. In his contribution, Giuseppe Pascale elaborates on the role of the African Commission with regard to the poor results of the implementation of the human right to health in Africa. Pedro Villarreal sheds some light on the current Zika crisis, and finally, Ilja Pavone discusses Resolution 2177 in which the Security Council for the first time considered a health epidemic as “a threat to international peace and security”.

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