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Online Lecture on Epidemics and International Law

20 September from 13:00 - 16:00



on Sunday, 20 September 2020 (1.00-4.00 PM. Bangkok Time GMT +7 )


Concept Note

Shinya Murase

The history of epidemics can be traced back to the beginning of the history of humankind itself, with the first recorded epidemic being the “Plague of Athens” in 429- 426 BC, on which Thucydides described vividly in his History of the Peloponnesian Wars. There have been numerous such instances of epidemics from the first human settlements to the modern day, some of which claimed millions of death toll. For instance, the number of deaths by the “Spanish Flu” of 1918 to 1920 was more than 100 million, three times as many as the victims of World War I. It is unbelievable that international law, while concerned with war and peace since the days of Hugo Grotius, it has never treated epidemics as a mainstream subject. In only the past twenty years of this century, the world has witnessed the outbreaks of SARS (2002-2004), Dengue (2005-2006), Ebola (2007-present), H1N1 Influenza (2009), MERS (2012), Zika (2016) and now COVID-19 (2019-present), just to name a few. This lecture poses the question why we should be concerned with epidemics from the perspective of general international law. Our submission is that we cannot just leave the matter to WHO and to the experts of international public health law. The problem of epidemics should be addressed, not by the single-issue approach of WHO law, but by considering the overall interrelationships of the relevant rules of international law. International law on the control of epidemics should be guided by the principle of solidarity and international cooperation rather than seeking responsibility of States and international organizations. In any event, we should avoid any political debates. The lecture will be followed by presentations of the following discussants: The lecturer and discussants will welcome questions and comments from the (virtual) floor afterwards.


1. Introduction
2. Development of international law on epidemics
Early records of epidemics
Development since the 19 th century
WHO Constitution and the International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005                                                                                                        Beyond WHO law
3. Basic Principles
International cooperation / Interrelationship health law with other relevant laws
– Human rights law
– International environmental law
– International trade and investment law
– International transport law
– International law of peace and security
4. International responsibility
State responsibility
Responsibility of international organizations (IOs)
5. International dispute settlement
ICJ, PCA, WTO, etc.
Scientific evidence

→ Lecture Manuscript

Curriculum Vitae
Professor Dr. Shinya Murase

He is Professor Emeritus of Sophia University in Tokyo. He obtained S.J.D. from the University of Tokyo in 1972. He was Visiting Scholar/Research Fellow at Harvard Law School in 1974-76, and Visiting Professor at Columbia Law School in 1995. He worked for the Codification Division, Office of Legal Affairs of the United Nations Secretariat between 1980 and 82. He is a Member of the UN International Law Commission (ILC) since 2009 and its Special Rapporteur for the topic on the “Protection of the Atmosphere” since 2013. He has been a Member of the Institut de droit international (IDI) since 2011. He was also a member of the Curatorium of the Hague Academy of International Law in 2004-2016, and a member of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in 2013-2019. He served as Visiting Professor at the Law School of China Youth University of Political Studies in 2014-2017, and at Peking University Law School since 2017. His major publications include: International Law: An Integrative Perspective on Transboundary Issues, Sophia University Press, 2011 (in English), and International Lawmaking: Sources of International Law, 2002 (in Japanese; its Chinese translation published by the Chinese People’s Public Safety University Press in 2012). International Law of the Atmosphere will be published in 2022 by Brill as a monograph of the Xiamen Academy of International Law.


To obtain the link for access online class, please register at: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/tJIqduGsqjspHdPxREonKjLOb_5OXh9P5Jhj

**available until Saturday, 19 September 2020, 4.00 pm.



20 September
13:00 - 16:00


International Law Association of Thailand