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Unit of study_

LAWS6920: Global Health Law

2023 unit information

National and sub-national perspectives have dominated traditional public health law. However, domestic governance alone is increasingly inadequate in an interconnected world in which information, commerce and people routinely travel beyond national borders. Climate change threatens to expand the range of disease vectors, as well as threatening whole populations. Infectious diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, SARS, Ebola, and Influenzas A (H1N1) and (H5N1) began far from Australia shores but quickly became serious concerns for Australian health officials. More recently Covid-19 (SARS-CoV-2) and its variants have swept the world, overwhelming health systems and public health strategies in developed and developing countries alike. Chronic conditions, such as obesity, tobacco-related diseases, and diabetes were once afflictions of affluent nations, but now increasingly plague developing countries. Global health challenges such as these reveal the inadequacy of not only domestic public health laws, but segmented and narrow disciplinary perspectives. Today's public health problems call for a more integrated approach. Public health law scholars require a basic understanding of disciplines beyond the scope of traditional legal training in order to work effectively with scientists, policymakers, ethicists, health workers and many other professionals to confront emergent threats to public health. Just as disciplinary boundaries have expanded, so too must governance regimes. International health law alone cannot assure the conditions for people to be healthy. Multiple domestic and international regimes have major impacts on health, such as agriculture, energy, trade, and the environment. This unit will consider each of these transitions in modern public health law: from domestic to international, from narrow legal to broader multidisciplinary perspectives, and from international health law to broader global health governance. The primary - although not exclusive - focus will be on global issues in public health law, including infectious diseases, non-communicable diseases, mental illness, and injuries. The unit will investigate the nature and possibilities of global health law and health governance, as well as complex ethical questions regarding the duties owed by citizens of different countries in an interdependent world. This unit is deeply multidisciplinary, calling on a range of disciplines including law, ethics, history, sociology, and public health. Through a bio-event simulation, students will experience first-hand the challenges and benefits of solving problems. By the end of the unit, students will have a solid understanding of global health governance frameworks and the role of international health law within it. Students will be able to critically evaluate gaps in current legal frameworks and the role that legal tools can play at national and international levels to address global health needs. Key topics include: Failures in global health and their consequences, including global health hazards, global health institutions and the promise and possibilities of global health law; International law and global health, including the International Health Regulations; global governance of Covid-19; Pandemic Influenza Preparedness Framework; the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control; global health, international trade and intellectual property; and global health and human rights; Global health law and governance in transition, including reform of global health security frameworks; AIDS, human rights and global health justice; the silent pandemic of non-communicable diseases; imagining global health with justice; and Simulation: responding to pandemic influenza.

Unit details and rules

Managing faculty or University school:


Code LAWS6920
Academic unit Law
Credit points 6
Assumed knowledge:

At the completion of this unit, you should be able to:

  • LO1. analyse and critically reflect on the legal, economic, political, and public health policy concepts relevant to global health law.
  • LO2. identify and describe to an advanced and integrated level the major institutions and organizations influencing global health, including intergovernmental organizations, non-governmental organizations, and foundations
  • LO3. critically Evaluate the effectiveness of international legal and policy mechanisms in advancing health goals and comprehend the theoretical framework underpinning contemporary international law related to global health
  • LO4. apply advanced legal research skills to critically assess and explain the significant contemporary challenges in global health and their underlying causes
  • LO5. synthesise complex legal ideas and concepts to create sound written and oral arguments and critically reflect on the appropriate role of law in addressing global health needs and priorities

Unit availability

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There are no availabilities for this year.
Session MoA ?  Location Outline ? 
Intensive August 2023
Block mode Camperdown/Darlington, Sydney

Modes of attendance (MoA)

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