Trade, foreign policy, diplomacy and health

7. International Law

David P Fidler


Conclusion (1)

Three trends for future of international law:

  • Creation/refinement of traditional international legal instruments Developing countries will need to devote more attention to international law and public health
  • Public health controversies and conflicts
  • New forms of governance regimes will appear

Three trends will likely characterize the foreseeable future of international law's role in the production of GPGH.

  • The creation and refinement of traditional international legal instruments, namely treaties, on public health issues. Within the WHO, the role of international law will be defined by how member states revise the IHR and develop the FCTC. Outside the WHO, treaty making and refinement will also continue to occur, such as Kyoto.
  • Public health controversies and conflicts will continue in many international legal regimes bearing on public health, such as international trade law (eg essential drugs and intellectual property protection under WTO).
  • New forms of governance regimes will appear that will present public health with institutions, rules, and procedures different from the traditional international legal model represented by treaties and IGOs (eg Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis and the public-private partnership to reduce costs of second-line tuberculosis drugs and ensure their proper use.

Whether refinement of existing international legal regimes and the creation of new ones will constitute progress in the production of GPGH, especially for developing countries, is by no means certain. The implication of the analysis presented here is that developing countries need to devote more attention to international law and public health, particularly as it relates to the three trends described above.

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