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Disease Diplomacy

, 192 pages

2 line drawings

January 2015



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Disease Diplomacy

International Norms and Global Health Security

In the age of air travel and globalized trade, pathogens that once took months or even years to spread beyond their regions of origin can now circumnavigate the globe in a matter of hours. Amid growing concerns about such epidemics as Ebola, SARS, MERS, and H1N1, disease diplomacy has emerged as a key foreign and security policy concern as countries work to collectively strengthen the global systems of disease surveillance and control.

The revision of the International Health Regulations (IHR), eventually adopted by the World Health Organization’s member states in 2005, was the foremost manifestation of this novel diplomacy. The new regulations heralded a profound shift in international norms surrounding global health security, significantly expanding what is expected of states in the face of public health emergencies and requiring them to improve their capacity to detect and contain outbreaks.

Drawing on Martha Finnemore and Kathryn Sikkink’s "norm life cycle" framework and based on extensive documentary analysis and key informant interviews, Disease Diplomacy traces the emergence of these new norms of global health security, the extent to which they have been internalized by states, and the political and technical constraints governments confront in attempting to comply with their new international obligations. The authors also examine in detail the background, drafting, adoption, and implementation of the IHR while arguing that the very existence of these regulations reveals an important new understanding: that infectious disease outbreaks and their management are critical to national and international security.

The book will be of great interest to academic researchers, postgraduate students, and advanced undergraduates in the fields of global public health, international relations, and public policy, as well as health professionals, diplomats, and practitioners with a professional interest in global health security.

Sara E. Davies is an Australian Research Council Future Fellow at Queensland University of Technology’s Australian Centre for Health Law Research. She is the program director of the Prevention of Genocide and Mass Atrocities Program at the University of Queensland’s Asia-Pacific Centre for the Responsibility to Protect. Adam Kamradt-Scott is a senior lecturer at the University of Sydney’s Centre for International Security Studies and the precinct leader for the humanities node of the Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity. Simon Rushton is a faculty research fellow at the University of Sheffield and an associate fellow at the Centre on Global Health Security at the Royal Institute of International Affairs, Chatham House.

"A major contribution to the literature on global health, Disease Diplomacy also offers a significant extension of existing work on the process by which international norms influence state compliance. This book will speak to students and scholars of international relations who are interested in how new global norms emerge, spread, and are internalized by states, as well as to anyone interested in the World Health Organization and the new global health regime."

"A notable new entry into the scholarly field... This book will surely become one of the key texts in the growing field of health diplomacy studies: a position it rightly deserves."

"Undoubtedly a significant addition to the literature of global health."

"... The book serves as a strategic resource for researchers and practitioners within global health security, as well as for students and individuals with thematic interest in nontraditional security frameworks of the twenty-first century."

"empirically rich and theoretically sophisticated account of the implementation of this reform process."

"This book has presented a neat tapestry of disease diplomacy within the context of international norms and global health security. Its findings and recommendations are relevant to both academics and policy makers in this field."

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