Toward Human Rights-Consistent Responses to Health Emergencies: What Is the Overlap between Core Right to Health Obligations and Core International Health Regulation Capacities?

Brigit Toebes, Lisa Forman, Giulio Bartolini

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8 Citations (Scopus)
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COVID-19 has highlighted the responsibilities of states under the International Health Regulations (IHR), as well as state accountability in case of a breach. These approaches and dimensions are valuable, as many COVID responses have breached human rights. We should also look beyond this crisis and address country preparedness for effective and equitable responses to future infectious disease outbreaks. This paper assesses countries’ international legal obligations to be prepared to respond to this and future public health emergencies. It does so from the perspective of the right to health, in interaction with the IHR. We analyze the functional relationship between the right to health and the IHR, focusing in particular on “core obligations” under the right to health and “core capacities” under the IHR. We find considerable parallels between the two regimes and argue in favor of more cross-fertilization between them. This regime interaction may enrich both frameworks from a normative perspective while also enhancing accountability and public health and human rights outcomes.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-112
Number of pages14
JournalHealth and Human Rights
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Dec-2020

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