Canada's Violation of International Law During the 2014-16 Ebola Outbreak

The Canadian Yearbook of International Law: 2016/Annuaire canadien de droit international: 2016, Vol. 54, October 2017

18 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2017

See all articles by Ali Tejpar

Ali Tejpar

University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, Students; Carleton University, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Students

Steven Hoffman

York University; Harvard University

Date Written: 2016

Abstract

The devastating 2014–16 West African Ebola outbreak challenged the authority of the World Health Organization (WHO) to enforce the legally binding International Health Regulations (IHR) that govern pandemic responses. Under Article 43 of the IHR, states parties can only implement additional health measures beyond the WHO’s recommendations if public health rationales or scientific evidence justify such measures. Yet at least fifty-eight states parties enacted additional health measures, mainly travel restrictions to or from Ebola-affected countries. This article explains why Canada’s visa restrictions targeting Ebola-affected countries failed to meet the IHR’s requirements and therefore violated international law. Specifically, Canada’s response went against public health authorities’ consensus views, the best available scientific evidence on disease transmission, and the WHO’s recommendations. In light of its traditional role as a global health champion, Canada must lead by example and abide by international law, including the IHR, instead of picking and choosing which rules to follow and thereby encouraging other countries to do the same.

Keywords: International health law, global health governance, Ebola, infectious diseases, pandemic responses, International Health Regulations, World Health Organization

JEL Classification: K32, K33, F53, F55, I14, I18

Suggested Citation

Tejpar, Ali and Hoffman, Steven, Canada's Violation of International Law During the 2014-16 Ebola Outbreak (2016). The Canadian Yearbook of International Law: 2016/Annuaire canadien de droit international: 2016, Vol. 54, October 2017. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3062696

Ali Tejpar (Contact Author)

University of Ottawa, Common Law Section, Students ( email )

Ottawa, Ontario
Canada

Carleton University, Norman Paterson School of International Affairs, Students ( email )

1125 Colonel By Drive
Ottawa
Canada

Steven Hoffman

York University ( email )

Global Strategy Lab
4700 Keele Street
Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3
Canada
+1-416-736-2100 ext 33364 (Phone)

HOME PAGE: http://www.globalstrategylab.org/people/steven-hoffman

Harvard University ( email )

Department of Global Health & Population
665 Huntington Avenue, Building 1, Room 1104
Boston, MA 02115
United States

HOME PAGE: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/steven-hoffman/

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