Global Health

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The Role of the Right to Health in a “Hidden” Pandemic: Antimicrobial Resistance

Last week, UK health officials declared that a "hidden pandemic" of antibiotic-resistant infections could soon threaten human health and lives. More cold symptoms are expected this winter, due to an increase in social mixing, but the UK Health Security Agency warn against premature and inadequate use of antibiotics. However, this menace is not new and not specific to the UK. In fact, the World Health Organization recognises antimicrobial resistance (including antibiotic resistance) as one of the top 10 global health threats facing humanity and organises a World Antimicrobial Awareness Week in November every year. Antibiotic resistance, like its name suggests, is the phenomenon describing the change that bacteria develop in order to resist the efficacy of antibiotics designed to kill them. As noted by the WHO, this phenomenon and the decreased effectiveness of antibiotics that it entails, jeopardise our ability to treat common infectious diseases, such as pneumonia, tuberculosis, blood poisoning, gonorrhoea, and foodborne diseases. This can lead, in turn, to prolonged hospital stays and increased mortality. This phenomenon is particularly…

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Punishing Compliance with International Law: The Omicron Variant and the International Health Regulations (2005)

On 24 November 2021, the government of South Africa reported the presence of a new variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus to the World Health Organization. The Technical Advisory Group on SARS-CoV-2 Evolution (TAG-VE), an independent group of experts, designated the new variant, denominated “Omicron”, to be a “Variant of Concern” (VOC). The TAG-VE's preliminary analysis of the…

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International Economic Law in a Time of Global Perils: Omicron and other COVID variants, Climate Change, Human Rights, and Development

The World Trade Organization decided to indefinitely postpone its 12th Ministerial Conference, originally scheduled for this week (30 November to 3 December), due to travel constraints for many delegations coming from countries that had already imposed travel bans and other restrictions due to the new Omicron variant.  The 12th Ministerial was slated to take up a…

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Why the rush? A call for critical reflection on the legal and human rights implications of a potential new international treaty on pandemics

Background: the push for an international treaty on pandemics At the close of the 74th World Health Assembly (WHA) on the 1st of June 2021, the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Director-General remarked: ‘One day – hopefully soon – the pandemic will be behind us, but we will still face…

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From Eunomia To Eusophia: Planning a better future for the human world

The COVID-19 pandemic has inspired much wide and deep thought about the human condition. A global phenomenon, like climate change, it has challenged deep-structural aspects of the organisation of the world.   It has challenged nationalism in requiring a cross-national response, at the level of policy and in complex practical measures. It has challenged established relationships between…

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