Trade, foreign policy, diplomacy and health

7. International Law

David P Fidler


5. Weaknesses of governments and national systems of law

  • Interdependency between international and national law creates limitations
  • States have to incorporate international legal obligations into national law
  • International law thus subject to national weakness, especially in developing countries
  • GPGH production requires improvement of national law in developing countries

Another limitation on the use of international law to produce GPGH relates to the interdependency between international and national law. The creation of international legal duties represents only the first legal step in producing GPGH. In virtually every case involving public health problems, states have to incorporate the international legal obligations into national law and policy. If the incorporation process breaks down, the entire international legal regime is jeopardized because states have not taken the necessary policy and legal measures domestically to attack the problem in question. Commentators have noted the weaknesses of many developing countries with respect to their national legal systems generally and domestic public health law specifically. Multiplying international legal regimes on GPGH does little to address the incorporation of international legal norms into domestic law and policy if states do not simultaneously improve the rule of law in developing countries.

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