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Entrenching Global Health Emergencies: Implications for Health and Human Rights Law

The UCD Centre for Human Rights and the (opens in a new window)Global Health Responsibility Agency will hold an international research symposium on the topic ‘Entrenching a Global Health Emergency Mode: Implications for Health and Human Rights Law’ on the 15th and 16th of June 2023 at UCD Sutherland School of Law.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) classified the appearance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus as a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) on the 30th of January 2020. It has upheld this ‘global health emergency mode’ ever since and continues to recommend member states to take medical and non-medical countermeasures.

At the same time, intense negotiations of a new treaty on pandemic preparedness and response are on-going at WHO, and the existing multilateral treaty on PHEICs – the 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR) – are thoroughly revised and amended. The new treaty and IHR amendments are likely to provide for a centralised global digitally-based biomedical surveillance system at WHO level to detect potential cross-border health threats. Relatedly, they foresee a significant increase in WHO’s executive emergency powers to rapidly adopt, coordinate and implement global medical and non-medical emergency countermeasures, including strict information control via infodemic management. An extension of the emergency cooperation between WHO and its public-private partners like the Vaccine Alliance Gavi and its Covax facility as well as with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (Cepi) are also planned.

At EU-level, new institutional structures – the Health Emergency Preparedness and Response Agency (HERA) as a new European Commission Directorate-General – have been established. At domestic level, legal and other measures taken to implement WHO-recommended countermeasures to Covid-19 are consolidated and made permanent via domestic infection protection acts, changes to medical law, and through domestic jurisprudence validating limitations to, and even derogations from, human rights during prolonged health emergencies.

Contributors to the symposium will analyse the on-going legal consolidation of a global health emergency mode and emergency powers at WHO, EU and domestic levels, and its myriad broader legal consequences, including as regards the protection of human rights and the regulatory frameworks for medicinal product authorisations.

Interested parties are welcome to register their attendance of this in-person event (opens in a new window)here.

Download the Final Programme

UCD Centre for Human Rights

Sutherland School of Law, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland.
E: marieluce.paris@ucd.ie