The right to health as a tool for promoting public health in international economic law

School of Business and Law
Dr Olasupo Owoeye
Dr Alex McEwan


Health rights are very critical not only to the well-being of people, they are also highly germane to the actualisation of the Sustainable Development Goals. Nonetheless, international economic law has traditionally given precedence to economic obligations under trade and investment agreements, over human rights rhetoric. However, in a decision circulated on 9 June 2020 on the Australian tobacco plain packaging dispute, the Appellate Body of the World Trade Organization recognised public health protection as a legitimate objective that nations may pursue without being held liable for creating unnecessary technical barriers to trade or causing an unjustifiable encumbrance on the enjoyment of intellectual property rights. The decision raises a range of significant questions on the importance of health rights in the implementation of trade agreements. This project will focus on the extent to which states may use health rights and public health objectives to pursue national policy goals without violating their obligations under international economic law. The project will explore issues at the interface between health rights and international economic law.

Law and Legal Studies
Heath rights, international economic law
From November 2020

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