Human Rights and Pandemic Influenza: the protection of human rights... health emergency Robyn Martin

Human Rights and Pandemic Influenza: the protection of human rights in a public
health emergency
Robyn Martin
Professor of Public Health Law
Centre for Research in Primary and Community Care
Coordinator PHLawFlu project
Global human rights instruments recognize that human rights protections may be
compromised where interventions are required to prevent and control threats to public
health. Pandemic influenza preparedness planning at national, regional and global level
envisages the possibility of powers of compulsory detention, vaccination and treatment, as
well as control of movement of people across borders. Some states have chosen to underpin
pandemic planning through reform of their public health laws. Other states have also drafted
emergency powers legislation enabling interventions that will inevitably infringe the liberty of
citizens and travelers. Much pandemic preparedness planning pays little heed to constraints
of human rights. This paper will critically examine the extent to which states are proposing
to breach private rights in the name of public health, and the extent to which public health
protection justifies human rights infringement.