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Mediating Risk through the International Health Regulations and Bio-political Surveillance

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Abstract

The International Health Regulations (IHR) remain the primary international legal treaty specifically focused on infectious disease control. In the mid-1990s, international public health officials recognised the need to overhaul the IHR to make them more relevant to the modern world. In revising the IHR, the treaty vastly expanded the scope of reportable conditions, strengthened and widened reporting requirements, and sought explicitly to incorporate human rights considerations – all in the name of reducing transborder risks associated with infectious disease. In this article, I trace the development of the IHR as a tool for mitigating infectious disease risk and examine how well the revised version of the IHR responds to contemporary infectious disease concerns. In particular, I focus on how the IHR have expanded surveillance requirements while also recognising the need to respect international human rights.

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