Chicago Journal of International Law


Eric MackFollow


Part II of this Development discusses the legal initiative undertaken by the WHO when it first drafted the International Health Regulations in 1969 ("IHRs 1969"). This section also outlines the purpose of the IHRs 1969 and highlights some of their major shortcomings. Section II then discusses the 2005 revisions to the IHRs 1969 and analyzes them with particular attention paid to the increased legislative and constitutional power granted to the WHO. Section III considers the potential conflict between the IHRs 2005 revisions and the principle of state sovereignty as well as the revisions' conflict with federal structures of government inherent in a number of large Western states. Lastly, Section III addresses the extent to which the WHO is seeking to become a supranational organization capable of side-stepping states' rights irrespective of geopolitical boundaries. Given the increased political power of the WHO and the level of state acquiescence to its power, Section IV concludes that public international health concerns appear to have superseded all notions of state sovereignty as a matter of customary international law. Furthermore, it can be argued that certain provisions within the IHRs 2005 are ineffective in preventing the globalization of so-called fast epidemics such as SARS or avian influenza and do little, if anything, to combat diseases, such as AIDS, which are already in their "true globalization phase."