Adjunct Law Prof Blog

Editor: Mitchell H. Rubinstein
New York Law School

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Swine Flu Outbreak and International Law-American Society of International Law (ASIL) Publication

We do not discuss International Law issues much here. However, the American Society of International Law just published an "Insight" paper written by a Indiana law professor David P. Fidler about the Swine Flu Outbreak. Insights are electronically published articles produced periodically by the American Society of International Law (ASIL) and written by legal experts on timely issues dealing with international law.  You can find past Insights on a variety of topics at

The Swine Flu Outbreak and International Law is available at

It discusses a whole host of public policy issues and recommendations that can range from merely watching the situation and reporting outbreaks (which the World Health Organization has done) to full blown restrictions on trade. The article, which is well written, provides in part:

Under the IHR 2005, if the WHO Director-General declares a public health emergency of international concern, then the Director-General must issue temporary recommendations (Article 15(1)). The nature of the temporary recommendations depends on the threat, and the IHR 2005 provides possible recommendatory actions (Article 18). Temporary recommendations are not binding under the IHR 2005.

On April 25, 2009, the WHO Director-General issued the temporary recommendation that “all countries should intensify surveillance for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia.”[24] The Director-General did not recommend trade or travel interventions with respect to countries affected by the outbreak. However, some countries have adopted such measures, including issuing travel notices warning against travel to Mexico (e.g., Hong Kong),[25] screening air passengers arriving from affected countries (e.g., Japan),[26] and banning pork exports from Mexico and affected states in the United States (e.g., Russia).[27]

The IHR 2005 do not preclude States Parties from implementing measures that achieve a greater level of health protection than WHO temporary recommendations, provided that such measures are (1) otherwise consistent with the Regulations, and (2) not more restrictive of international trade and travel, and not more invasive or intrusive to persons, than reasonably available alternatives that would achieve the appropriate level of health protection (Article 43(1)) (see analysis below on trade and travel restrictions).

Mitchell H. Rubinstein

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Great link and some useful information here. Thank you for sharing. It is interesting to see the validity of law in regards to the outbreak.

Posted by: Forex news | Jun 20, 2009 8:13:43 PM

H1N1 (referred to as “swine flu” early on) is a new influenza virus causing illness in people. Symptoms of swine flu are similar to those caused by other influenza viruses. Health authorities across the globe are taking steps to try to stem the spread of swine flu after outbreaks in Mexico and the United States. The World Health Organization has called it a "public health emergency of international concern."

Posted by: Sujan Patricia | Jul 23, 2009 11:21:26 AM

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