Mapping the Scope and Opportunities for Public Health Law in Liberal Democracies
The University of Sydney Law School
Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics, Vol. 35, No. 4, pp. 571-587, 2007
Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 07/88
The two questions, What is public health law? and How can law improve the public's health? are perennial ones for public health law scholars. This paper proposes a series of headings or frames for better understanding discussion and debate about the scope and opportunities for public health law within liberal democracies. First of all, models of public health law within the liberal tradition project certain values about the legitimate goals of state intervention. Secondly, those goals and values will influence perceptions of which determinants of health it is appropriate for law to engage with. Thirdly, forms of regulation, and legal interventions, can be categorised in different ways. Fourthly, law itself is only one of a number of modes of regulation that reflect different strategies towards compliance and enforcement. Fifthly, public health regulatory functions will be shared between different tiers of government, depending on country-specific constitutional and other features. Finally, at a more specific, national or sub-national level, law's role in protecting and promoting population health will be reflected in a wide range of laws and processes for achieving public health objectives.
Keywords: Public health law, regulation, liberal society, democracy, non-communicable diseases, framework
JEL Classification: I18, K32, I00, K10
Date posted: December 14, 2007