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Title: Who makes international law? : how the World Health Organization changed the regulation of infectious disease
Author: Wang, Yanbai Andrea
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis investigates the impact of international organizations on the making of international law by applying insights on how international organizations work—or fail to work—to the process of institutionalized treaty making. Specifically, I probe the relationship between the World Health Organization (“WHO”) and international infectious disease law, focusing in particular on the 2005 International Health Regulations (“2005 IHR”), which was negotiated, adopted, and is now being implemented under WHO’s auspices. The 2005 IHR is the most recent development in international infectious disease law, the history of which extends back to the beginning of international health cooperation in the mid-nineteenth century, before any international health organization was formed. Relying on secondary sources, WHO documents, archival materials, and personal interviews, I chronologically trace the evolution of international infectious disease law across changing institutional settings. I first examine the incremental growth of the older “barrier” approach to infectious disease regulation, initially developed in the absence of any international health organization and then with the aid of one of WHO’s predecessor organizations. I then analyze the decline of the barrier approach and the rise of the new “epidemiological” approach embodied by the 2005 IHR, with the aid of WHO. Based on my empirical analysis, I conclude that WHO has radically changed the process of making international infectious disease law as well as its content. On its own initiative and without member state demand, WHO’s permanent staff experimented with novel practices that subsequently became the basis for the 2005 IHR. WHO’s work reduced the length of formal negotiation needed to arrive at a new agreement and the uncertainty associated with adopting a novel regulatory system. Its influence also raises normative questions about the proper role of international organizations in making international law—questions that require further exploration.
Supervisor: Woods, Ngaire Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: International studies ; Public international law ; Public Health ; Infectious diseases ; World Health Organization ; International Health Regulations