The management of the novel coronavirus has raised key questions regarding the adequacy of the existing international health law regime in effectively countering an outbreak of this magnitude. The structure and operational failures of the World Health Organization (WHO) have been brought to the fore by Member States – with some countries withdrawing membership or cutting funding, while others denigrating the body for becoming politically motivated. There is also criticism that the current International Health Regulations (2005) framework leaves too much room for national discretion, with States delaying reporting outbreaks of novel non-communicable diseases, such as COVID-19, resulting in a haphazard response at the international level. These critiques necessitate a deeper understanding of the global health governance framework and the ways in which it falls short of effectively countering a global pandemic. This paper highlights the fallacies of the existing framework of international health governance, and further contextualises Pakistan’s experience of countering COVID-19. It concludes with identifying recommendations that can be incorporated to improve responses to pandemics and other health emergencies internationally.
RSIL is a private sector research and policy institution based in Pakistan whose mission is to conduct research on the intersection between international law and the Pakistani legal context