The Stellenbosch Consensus on Legal National Responses to Public Health Risks
International Organizations Law Review (2020)
68 Pages Posted: 14 Dec 2020
Date Written: December 2, 2020
The International Health Regulations (IHR), of which the World Health Organization is custodian, govern how countries collectively promote global health security, including prevention, detection, and response to global health emergencies such as the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Countries are permitted to exercise their sovereignty in taking additional health measures to respond to such emergencies if these measures adhere to Article 43 of this legally binding instrument. Overbroad measures taken during recent public health emergencies of international concern, however, reveal that the provision remains inadequately understood. A shared understanding of the measures legally permitted by Article 43 is a necessary step in ensuring the fulfillment of obligations, and fostering global solidarity and resilience in the face of future pandemics. In this consensus statement, public international law scholars specializing in global health consider the legal meaning of Article 43 using the interpretive framework of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties.
Keywords: Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, International Health Regulations, international organizations, World Health Organization, global health law, pandemics, travel bans, trade restrictions
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