Eccleston-Turner, MR and McArdle, S (2020) The Law of Responsibility and the World Health Organisation: a Case Study on the West African Ebola Outbreak. In: Infectious Diseases in the New Millennium: Legal and Ethical Challenges. Springer. (In Press)

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Abstract

The delay between the WHO being made aware of the 2014 Ebola epidemic in West Africa and declaring it a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) has been the subject of some considerable criticism in the bioethics literature, as well as in the Report of the Ebola Interim Assessment Panel commissioned by the WHO which stated that that ‘significant and unjustifiable delays occurred in the declaration of a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) by WHO.’ This paper examines this late declaration of a PHEIC for Ebola through the lens of the international law of responsibility, arguing that the WHO should incur responsibility for this delay. The law of responsibility is long standing in international law as the framework for providing redress for breaches of the law. It gives rise to an obligation to provide redress and ensures some form of culpability for a breach of international law. In this paper we argue that the WHO does not merely have the power to declare a PHEIC via the International Health Regulations (2005), but also has a legal obligation to do so. An obligation which we argue, they breached in failing to declare the recent Ebola outbreak in West Africa a PHEIC in a timely manner. This breach should then engage the law of responsibility for the consequences of the delay. The paper argues, however, that there exist substantial issues with the application of the principles of responsibility.

Item Type: Book Section
Additional Information: This is the accepted author manuscript (AAM) of a book chapter, deposited according to the open access policy of the publisher. The final published version (version of record) is available online via Springer at https://www.springer.com/gp/book/9783030398187 - please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.
Uncontrolled Keywords: WHO, Ebola, Responsibility, legal personhood, PHEIC, international organisations
Subjects: K Law > KZ Law of Nations
R Medicine > R Medicine (General)
Depositing User: Symplectic
Date Deposited: 19 Feb 2020 13:40
Last Modified: 19 Feb 2020 13:40
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/7667

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