Law, Ethics and Pandemic Preparedness: The Importance of Cross-Jurisdictional and Cross-Cultural Perspectives

Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 106-112, 2010

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/51

Posted: 13 May 2010  

Belinda Bennett

Queensland University of Technology

Terry Carney

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: May 11, 2010

Abstract

This paper explores social equity, health planning, regulatory and ethical dilemmas in responding to a pandemic influenza (H5N1) outbreak, and the adequacy of protocols and standards such as the International Health Regulations (2005). The paper analyses the role of legal and ethical considerations for pandemic preparedness, including an exploration of the relevance of cross-jurisdictional and cross-cultural perspectives in assessing the validity of goals for harmonisation of laws and policies both within and between nations. Australian and international experience is reviewed in various areas, including distribution of vaccines during a pandemic, the distribution of authority between national and local levels of government, and global and regional equity issues for poorer countries. It is concluded that questions such as those of distributional justice (resource allocation) and regulatory frameworks raise important issues about the cultural and ethical acceptability of planning measures. Serious doubt is cast on a ‘one size fits all’ approach to international planning for managing a pandemic. It is concluded that a more nuanced approach than that contained in international guidelines may be required if an effective response is to be constructed internationally. The paper commends the wisdom of reliance on ‘soft law’, international guidance that leaves plenty of room for each nation to construct its response in conformity with its own cultural and value requirements.

Keywords: avian flu, pandemic management, ethics, regulatory models

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K32, K33

Suggested Citation

Bennett, Belinda and Carney, Terry, Law, Ethics and Pandemic Preparedness: The Importance of Cross-Jurisdictional and Cross-Cultural Perspectives (May 11, 2010). Australian & New Zealand Journal of Public Health, Vol. 34, No. 2, pp. 106-112, 2010; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 10/51. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1604895

Belinda Bennett

Queensland University of Technology ( email )

Level 4, C Block Gardens Point
2 George St
Brisbane, QLD 4000
Australia

Terry Carney (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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