My research focuses on how international legal standard-setting instruments play a role in the protection of health. ‘International health law’ is not a well-developed branch of international law. The health-related standards are very fragmented and they lack adequate implementation by all the stakeholders in the health field. Moreover these standards insufficiently emphasise equitable access and distribution of health services, and the creation of overall fairness in health.
International law is potentially a powerful and essential weapon in strengthening health prevention and control. As the recent ebola crisis has demonstrated, health problems increasingly transcend borders. However, ebola and other infectious diseases are not the only health problems the world is facing today. We are witnessing a change in disease patterns, some of which are lifestyle-related; increasing health inequalities within and between nations; as well as the detrimental health effects of environmental degradation, climate change, urbanization and internal conflicts. Powerful actors such as the pharmaceutical industry but also the tobacco, food and beverage industries now structurally operate on a global level. All this is affecting the health and wellbeing of individuals worldwide, and especially those who are marginalized and disadvantaged. A stronger recognition of international health law is necessary to address these challenges in the health field.
Based on my 20 years of experience advancing human rights standards for the health field, my overall research goal is to lay out the theoretical and practical fundament for international health law. As such, my research is aimed at creating a better understanding of the nature and scope of international health law, and of how this field can be best employed to address global health injustices.