Law and Global Health (LAWS90262)
Graduate courseworkPoints: 12.5On Campus (Parkville)
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The importance of health to the functioning of societies has never been more apparent than it is today. Nor has the global nature of health. Today’s major risks to health are global in nature, including the rapid spread of pathogens across borders in our highly interconnected world, and the commercial practices of multinational corporations that market harmful products. These health risks cannot be combated without international cooperation including in:
- preventing / limiting the spread of pathogens
- regulating harmful commercial practices
- conducting medical and public health research, and making the fruits of this research (including vaccines, therapeutics and other medical products and equipment) globally available, and
- developing and disseminating trustworthy medical and public health information.
Law – at all levels, from international to national and sub-national – has a fundamental role to play in global health. It can be among the most powerful tools for protecting and promoting health, but it can also fall well short of achieving its potential, or even actively contribute to harm, if poorly designed or implemented, of where it pursues other policy objectives in ways that conflict with those of health.
This subject is called ‘Law and global health’ rather than ‘Global health law’. This reflects the reality that, while there are a range of international instruments (including both legally binding and non-legally binding) that are specifically designed to protect and promote global health, global health can be equally influenced by international instruments across diverse areas such as human rights, climate change and environment, animal health, intellectual property, international trade, and international investment. While the subject will focus primarily on the instruments and organisations that are explicitly dedicated to health, it will examine the critical connections with other relevant areas of law, policy and practice.
The subject will cover both communicable diseases (including pandemics such as COVID-19, and the growing problem of antimicrobial resistance) and non-communicable diseases (such as heart disease, stroke, cancer, diabetes and chronic lung disease).
Principal topics will include:
- An introduction to global health priorities, including infectious diseases, noncommunicable diseases, climate change and antimicrobial resistance
- Global health narratives, concepts and approaches
- An introduction to the World Health Organization
- Global governance of infectious diseases, including the International Health Regulations (2005) and the proposed new treaty on pandemic prevention, preparedness and response
- Global governance of noncommunicable diseases, particularly the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control
- Trade, investment, intellectual property and health
Intended learning outcomes
A student who has successfully completed this subject will:
- Have a sound understanding of major current global health priorities, and of major narratives in, and approaches to, global health, including social determinants of health, universal health coverage, human rights, health security, One Health, and commercial determinants of health
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the powers, responsibilities and limitations of international organisations, and an awareness of the ways in which the mandates and work of a wide range of international organisations are relevant to global health
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the role of international instruments in protecting and promoting, or potentially harming, global health
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the ways in which international instruments that are specifically dedicated to global health interact with a wide range of other international instruments and regimes, and some of the legal and practical implications of these interactions
- Have an advanced and integrated understanding of the wide range of actors that play major roles in global health.
- legal analysis skills, including of international legal frameworks and rules, and their significance for national activities
- capacity to analyse and reflect on the ways in which international legal frameworks developed to address different policy challenges intersect, and the significance and impact of these intersections
- specialised ability to develop a research question in this complex field and to creatively carry out research involving diverse sources
- advanced written communication skills, including in reflective writing and a legal research paper
Last updated: 24 January 2023