BYU Law Review


Brittney Graff


The COVID-19 pandemic presented an unprecedented challenge for the World Health Organization (WHO) and international community. The outbreak and ongoing pandemic prompted States to reassess the efficacy of the International Health Regulations (IHR). In November 2021, the World Health Assembly (WHA) decided to develop a new agreement to increase international pandemic preparedness. This paper analyzes the current gaps in the IHR to present a pragmatic approach wherein the WHA would amend rather than replace the IHR. It starts by examining the purpose and history of the IHR, including past revisions. It then addresses the constitutional framework of the IHR, and legal authority granted to the WHO to enact global health agreements. The paper analyzes specific articles of the IHR and their purported objectives to provide context for the IHR’s shortcomings. The paper argues that amendments are the pragmatic approach to strengthen the existing foundation laid down by the IHR. Specific amendments that prioritize improved detection and surveillance systems, greater multisectoral cooperation, and mitigation of resource scarcity will promote improved preparedness and prevent future outbreaks. The paper includes new language and substance for each proposed amendment that integrates with the existing IHR framework.


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