Health - Research Guide International Law

Health is vitally important for every human being in the world. Global health matters to everyone, not just to those living in developing countries. The World Health Organization (WHO) defines health as “the state of complete physical, mental and social well-being and not merely the absence of disease or infirmity. The enjoyment of the hihgest attainable standard of health is one of the fundamental rights of every human being without distinction of race, religion, political belief, economic or social condition”. Since 15 June 2007, the world has been implementing the International Health Regulations (IHR). The International Health Regulations are a legally-binding international agreement that govern the roles of the World Health Organization and its Member States around the globe in identifying, sharing information about, and responding to public health events that may have international consequences. Since then trade and travel have increased significantly. Under the revised Regulations, countries that have accepted the IHR have broader responsibility to take preventive measures against, as well as to detect and respond to, any event that may constitute a public health emergency of international concern. The International Health Regulations also give the WHO clearer authority to recommend to its Member States measures that will help contain the international spread of disease, including public health actions to be taken. The IHR cover all hazards, not just infectious diseases.

Ebola virus diseaseOn August 8, 2014, the WHO Director-General Margaret Chan declared the West Africa Ebola crises a “public health emergency of international concern,” triggering powers under the 2005 International Health Regulations. The most affected West African states have attempted classic public health measures with varied success, including quarantine and isolation, social distancing, risk communication, and travel restrictions. These have involved a trade off between population health and human rights; sometimes to the disadvantage of both. At the same time, the countries’ health systems and human resources are fragile, impeding an effective response. Beyond the public health and humanitarian implications, this crisis has raised controversial ethical issues concerning the withholding or providing early access to investigational therapies, the preference given to foreign aid workers, and the disproportionate impact of Ebola on domestic health care workers. The WHO director-general’s declaration of a public health emergency of international concern underscores the urgency of a coordinated international response and the imperative of raising the health systems capacity of low-income states. However, the current outbreak demonstrates how global governance has suffered from a lack of binding international commitment to sustainable capacity building and technical assistance in low-income states.

This Research Guide is intended as a starting point for research on Health. It provides the basic legal materials available in the Peace Palace Library, both in print and electronic format. Handbooks, leading articles, bibliographies, periodicals, serial publications and documents of interest are presented in the Selective Bibliography section. Links to the PPL Catalogue are inserted. The Library’s classification index code 157. Sanitary Law (Opium, etc.); World Health Organization and subject heading (keyword) Health are instrumental for searching through the Catalogue. Special attention is given to our subscriptions on databases, e-journals, e-books and other electronic resources. Finally, this Research Guide features links to relevant websites and other online resources of particular interest.

Online publications released during October/November/December 2014


Baker, P., Kay. A., Walls, H., Trade Liberalization as a Driver of Tobacco, Alcohol and Ultra-Processed Food Consumption in Asia: A Synthesis of Data and Existing Literature, Global Health 10(1):66; RegNet Research Paper No. 2014/52.

Abstract: Trade and investment liberalization (trade liberalization) can promote or harm health. Undoubtedly it has contributed, although unevenly, to Asia’s social and economic development over recent decades with resultant gains in life expectancy and living standards. In the absence of public health protections, however, it is also a significant upstream driver of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) including cardiovascular disease, cancer and diabetes through facilitating increased consumption of the ‘risk commodities’ tobacco, alcohol and ultra-processed foods, and by constraining access to NCD medicines. In this paper the authors describe the NCD burden in Asian countries, trends in risk commodity consumption and the processes by which trade liberalization has occurred in the region and contributed to these trends. The authors further establish pressing questions for future research on strengthening regulatory capacity to address trade liberalization impacts on risk commodity consumption and health.

Klingebiel, S. and Bindenagel Šehović, A., Eine Funktionsfähigere Globale Gesundheitspolitik: Empfehlungen Für Den Umgang Mit Ebola (Making Global Health Governance Work: Recommendations for How to Respond to Ebola) (November 7, 2014). Analysen und Stellungnahmen, Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE), Vol. 13, 2014.

Abstract: Ebola pandemic is a crisis of global proportion and of global concern. It is locally concentrated and requires responses on a local scale with a global scope. Its projected trajectory is the subject of volatile predictions, confused communication, imperiled responses and, increasingly, panic. It is at once a health crisis, with severe economic repercussions, and a threat to peace and security, espe­cially in the region and even beyond.

Billauer, Barbara P., A Retrospective Review of Evidence of SARs Causation in Light of the MERS and Ebola Epidemics (October 1, 2014).

Abstract: A retrospective review of SARS causal proof demonstrates that Koch’s postulates have not been satisfied in attempts to replicate the initial claim. Most researchers attribute this to different strains being analyzed. This study compares diagnostic criteria with laboratory studies, pathology and epidemiology, and suggests that rather than two different strains being responsible for the failure to replicate the original study, different organisms may have been circulating in different parts of the world.


Reference works




Periodicals, serial publications


New titles

The Peace Palace Library has a collection of over a million publications. Each week, about six hundred new titles are added to our collection: books, articles, documents, online publications, etc. On this page, access is provided to this week’s new titles on the topic health. Health and public health concerns a variety of topics and aspects of health; the right to health, infectious diseases, access to medicines, healthcare, sanitary law, food and drug law, from the ethics of embryonic stem cell research to the role and responsibility of the government, safety regulations and medical malpractice.

1. The Informal Health Industry in East Africa and Implementation of the Legal Empowerment of the Poor Agenda in Developing Countries
The Informal Health Industry in East Africa and Implementation of the Legal Empowerment of the Poor Agenda in Developing Countries / Kanakulya Dickson. - Farnham : Ashgate. - Page 131-157 In: The Legal Empowerment Agenda : Poverty, Labour and the Informal Economy in Africa / edited by Dan Banik, ISBN 9781409411192: (2011), Page 131-157. - 2011
Keywords: East Africa, Poverty, Health, Medical services, Working conditions,

2. Millennium Development Goal 6 and the Trifecta of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis in Africa
Millennium Development Goal 6 and the Trifecta of HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis in Africa : a Human Rights Analysis / Obiajulu Nnamuchi In: Denver Journal of International Law and Policy = ISSN 0196-2035: vol. 42, issue 2, page 247-286. - 2014
Keywords: Africa, World Health Organization, Health, HIV/AIDS, Diseases, Pharmaceuticals, Discrimination, Human rights,

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  • Lezotre, P., International Cooperation, Convergence and Harmonization of Pharmaceutical Regulations: A Global Perspective, Amsterdam, etc., Academic Press, 2014. Showcase item

    Lezotre, P., International Cooperation, Convergence and Harmonization of Pharmaceutical Regulations: A Global Perspective, Amsterdam, etc., Academic Press, 2014.

    This book provides the current status of the complex and broad phenomenon of cooperation, convergence and harmonization in the pharmaceutical sector (Part I), thoroughly evaluates its added value and its critical parameters and influencing factors (Part II) in order to recommend actions and measures to support the next steps for cooperation, convergence and harmonization (Part III). All of these recommendations in the book support the establishment of a better coordinated global pharmaceutical system which represents the best realistic alternative to fulfill the objective to establish a global coalition of regulators and to respond to an increased demand to further cooperation in the pharmaceutical sector. This proposed framework, which leverages all of the ongoing positive cooperation initiatives and uses as foundations all of the numerous harmonization projects developed over the years, presents advantages for all stakeholders and would definitively have significant added value to the promotion and protection of global public health.

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  • Flood, C.M., The Right to Health at the Public/Private Divide: A Global Comparative Study, New York, Cambridge University Press, 2014. Showcase item

    Flood, C.M., The Right to Health at the Public/Private Divide : a Global Comparative Study, New York, NY, Cambridge University Press, 2014.

    Through a comparative global study of countries from all continents representing a diversity of health, legal, political, and economic systems, this book explores the role of health rights to advance greater equality through access to health care. Does health care promote equality, or does it in fact advance the opposite result? Does inserting the idea of “the right to health” into health systems allow the reinsertion of public values into systems that are undergoing privatization? Or does it allow for private claims to be rearticulated as “rights,” in a way that actually reinforces inequality? This volume includes studies from countries such as the United States, the United Kingdom, Brazil, Canada, The Netherlands, China, and Nigeria, among many others, as well as authors with expertise regarding both the legal and health systems of their countries, making this a seminal study that allows readers to see the differing role of rights in various health systems.

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  • Li, P., Health Technologies and International Intellectual Property Law : a Precautionary Approach, London, New York, Routledge, 2014.

    Li, P., Health Technologies and International Intellectual Property Law : a Precautionary Approach, London, New York, Routledge, 2014.

    The global transmission of infectious diseases has fuelled the need for a more developed legal framework in international public health to provide prompt and specific guidance during a large-scale emergency. This book develops a means for States to take advantage of the flexibilities of compulsory licensing in the Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), which promotes access to medicines in a public health emergency. It presents the precautionary approach (PA) and the structure of risk analysis as a means to build a workable reading of TRIPS and to help States embody the flexibilities of intellectual property (IP).  The work investigates the complementary roles of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Trade Organization (WTO) in order to promote the harmonisation of the precautionary approach in relation to the patenting of crucial pharmaceutical products. By bringing together international trade law and intellectual property law Phoebe Li demonstrates how through the use of risk analysis and the precautionary approach, States can still comply with their legal obligations in international law, while exercising their sovereignty right in issuing a compulsory licence of a drug patent in an uncertain public health emergency. This book will be of great interest to students and academics of medical and healthcare law, intellectual property law, international trade law, and human rights law.

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  • Clarke, L., Public-private partnerships and responsibility under international law : a global health perspective, London, New York, 2014.

    Clarke, L., Public-Private Partnerships and Responsibility under International Law: A Global Health Perspective, London, New York, 2014.

    Partnerships between the public and private sectors are an increasingly accepted method to deal with pressing global issues, such as those relating to health. Partnerships, comprised of states and international organizations (public sector) and companies, non-governmental organizations, research institutes and philanthropic foundations (private sector), are forming to respond to pressing global health issues. These partnerships are managing activities that are normally regarded to be within the domain of states and international organizations, such as providing access to preventative and treatment measures for certain diseases, or improving health infrastructure within certain states to better manage the growing risk of disease. In the shadow of the success of these partnerships lies, however, the possibility of something going wrong and it is to this shadow that this book sheds light. This book explores the issue of responsibility under international law in the context of global health public-private partnerships. The legal status of partnerships under international law is explored in order to determine whether or not partnerships have legal personality under international law, resulting in them being subject to rules of responsibility under international law. The possibility of holding partnerships responsible in domestic legal systems and the immunity partnerships have from the jurisdiction of domestic courts in certain states is also considered. The obstacles to holding partnerships themselves responsible leads finally to an investigation into the possibility of holding states and/or international organizations, as partners and/or hosts of partnerships, responsible under international law in relation to the acts of partnerships. This book will be of interest to those researching and working in areas of global governance, especially hybrid public-private bodies; the responsibility under international law of states and international organizations; and also global health. It provides doctrinal clarification and practical guidance in a developing field of international law.

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  • Gostin, L., Global Health Law, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2014.

    Gostin, L., Global Health Law, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2014.

    The international community has made great progress in improving global health. But staggering health inequalities between rich and poor still remain, raising fundamental questions of social justice. In a book that systematically defines the burgeoning field of global health law, Lawrence Gostin drives home the need for effective global governance for health and offers a blueprint for reform, based on the principle that the opportunity to live a healthy life is a basic human right. Gostin shows how critical it is for institutions and international agreements to focus not only on illness but also on the essential conditions that enable people to stay healthy throughout their lifespan: nutrition, clean water, mosquito control, and tobacco reduction. Policies that shape agriculture, trade, and the environment have long-term impacts on health, and Gostin proposes major reforms of global health institutions and governments to ensure better coordination, more transparency, and accountability. Gostin illustrates the power of global health law with case studies on AIDS, influenza, tobacco, and health worker migration. Today’s pressing health needs worldwide are a problem not only for the medical profession but also for all concerned citizens. Designed with the beginning student, advanced researcher, and informed public in mind, Global Health Law will be a foundational resource for teaching, advocacy, and public discourse in global health.

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  • Lee, K., and J. Fang, Historical dictionary of the World Health Organization, Lanham, Scarecrow Press, 2013.

    Lee, K and Fang, J., Historical dictionary of the World Health Organization, Lanham,  Scarecrow Press, 2013.

    The WHO’s history spans a period of over six decades, with particular emphasis on the past twenty years. This has been a particularly busy period in WHO’s development, given the transition from international to global health cooperation, and thus the need to adapt to important changes in its operating environment. In some cases, WHO has been a direct part of the institutional arrangements that have been created, and has shared the increased funding, provided for global health. In other cases, the organization has had to adapt its activities and programs in response to rival initiatives. This has led to many changes, not only to the name of specific parts of WHO but the nature of their activities; and this second edition attempts to capture some of this institutional complexity. The Historical Dictionary of the World Health Organization covers the history of the WHO through a chronology, an introductory essay, appendixes, and an extensive bibliography. The dictionary section has over 1000 cross-referenced entries on key bodies, programs, events and people. This book is an excellent access point for students, researchers, and anyone wanting to know more about the World Health Organization.


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  • Ebola and the Questions It Raises

    On August 8, the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General Margaret Chan declared the West Africa Ebola crisis a “public health emergency of international concern,” saying “our collective health security depends on urgent support for containment in the affected countries”, triggering powers under the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR). The Ebola outbreak raises a number of questions. Has the WHO responded to Ebola as swiftly as it should have? Since 1976 more than 15 Ebola outbreaks have erupted in sub-Saharan Africa, so why hasn’t it been eradicated already? And what about ethical questions?

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  • This Time for Africa

    Even though the biggest economy of the African continent is working on a new future, the country is still facing a lot of social problems. Lately, the news showed us the mine strikes in the platinum industry. These strikes can have an impact on other sectors as well, which is not preferable in a country like South Africa. Furthermore, there is unemployment and poverty, but still one of South Africa’s biggest problems is the people infected and affected by HIV/AIDS.

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  • Food Crisis

    The global increase in food prices will plunge millions of people into hunger worldwide. Starvation and food shortage already caused food riots and are threatening to destabilize regimes.

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