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Preparing for the Next Pandemic: the International Health Regulations and World Health Organization during COVID-19


In this chapter we will focus on how the current IHR have limited utility during a pandemic, most notably in respect of a coordinated approach among states and international institutions and across international legal regimes to deliver the assets that are most important to sustain a global response, reduce the economic and social suffering, and allow the international community to “build back better”. We argue that the Regulations themselves are inadequately balanced at present, with insufficient attention given to the third and fourth aims of the Regulations: to “control and provide a public health response to the international spread of disease in ways that are commensurate with and restricted to public health risks.” In this chapter, we firstly outline some of the key strengths and distinguishing features of the IHR as an international legal instrument, which we caution against diluting or removing in the event of the IHR being revised post-COVID. From this we also identify one major area for future reform of the IHR, highlighting how the world and WHO can be better prepared to sustainably respond to the next pandemic.

Acceptance Date Sep 3, 2020
Publication Date Feb 18, 2021
Book Title Yearbook of International Disaster Law
ISBN 978-90-04-44569-7
Publisher URL

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