World Health Organization’s dispute settlement in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic: problems and perspectives

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Author: Arina Androsova, Tatiana Novikova

DOI: 10.21128/2226-2059-2021-2-134-150

Keywords: COVID-19 pandemic, global healthcare, International Court of Justice, State responsibility, World Health Organization

Abstract

In the light of Coronavirus disease pandemic, the question of state responsibility in global health has become actual as never before. Rarely mentioned in the scientific literature, but at the same time, an important problem is the lack of an appropriate dispute settlement body which is competent to consider cases of violation of the World Health Organization’s instructions. The goal of the article is to research different bodies which are potentially competent to resolve disputes regarding violations in the scope of healthcare and to determine the most appropriate one in the light of responsibility of states over the COVID-19 pandemic. The paper analyzes the possibility of resolving a dispute regarding the new pandemic in the International Court of Justice, through arbitration, through negotiations, within an advisory body, and through the World Health Assembly. The article also considers the prospects of other organs of the World Health Organization to perform judicial functions. The paper relies on the analysis of treaty regulations regarding functioning of presented bodies, as well as on enforcement practice of these bodies. Additionally, the authors take into account an attitude of members of the World Health Organization to named bodies. The article shows the advantages and disadvantages of each dispute settlement mechanism. It also develops ways of reforming named bodies to expand their competence to hold states responsible for violations during outbreaks of infectious diseases. The paper concludes that the only body, which is currently able to assign the responsibility of states, is the main organ of the World Health Organization – the World Health Assembly. The absence of an effective way of holding states responsible for violations leads to systematic breaches of their obligations. Today responses of the World Health Organization have become a subject of significant criticism. Furthermore, the World Health Organization’s authority in the international community has been greatly shaken. Thus, effective dispute settlement in the field can solve the burning issue of seeking fairness within violations in the area of global health and also improve the effectiveness of the World Health Organization as a whole.

About the authors: Arina Androsova – 4th Year Student, Faculty of Training Specialists for the Judicial System (Law Faculty), North Caucasian Branch of the Russian State University of Justice, Krasnodar, Russia; Tatiana Novikova – Candidate of Sciences in Law, Associate Professor, Dean of Faculty for Training of Specialists for Judicial System (Faculty of Law), Associate Professor of International Law Department, North Caucasian Branch of the Russian State University of Justice, Krasnodar, Russia.

Citation: Androsova A., Novikova T. (2021) Problemy i perspektivy uregulirovaniya sporov v ramkakh Vsemirnoy organizatsii zdravookhraneniya v svete pandemii COVID-19 [World Health Organization’s dispute settlement in the light of the COVID-19 pandemic: problems and perspectives]. Mezhdunarodnoe pravosudie, vol. 11, no. 2, pp. 134–150. (In Russian).