Law, ethics and pandemic preparedness : the importance of cross-jurisdictional and cross-cultural perspectives

Bennett, Belinda & Carney, Terry (2010) Law, ethics and pandemic preparedness : the importance of cross-jurisdictional and cross-cultural perspectives. Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, 34(2), pp. 106-112.

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To explore social equity, health planning, regulatory and ethical dilemmas in responding to a pandemic influenza (H5N1) outbreak, and the adequacy of protocols and standards such as the International Health Regulations (2005).


This paper analyses the role of legal and ethical considerations for pandemic preparedness, including an exploration of the relevance of cross-jurisdictional and cross-cultural perspectives in assessing the validity of goals for harmonisation of laws and policies both within and between nations. Australian and international experience is reviewed in various areas, including distribution of vaccines during a pandemic, the distribution of authority between national and local levels of government, and global and regional equity issues for poorer countries.


This paper finds that questions such as those of distributional justice (resource allocation) and regulatory frameworks raise important issues about the cultural and ethical acceptability of planning measures. Serious doubt is cast on a ‘one size fits all’ approach to international planning for managing a pandemic. It is concluded that a more nuanced approach than that contained in international guidelines may be required if an effective response is to be constructed internationally.


The paper commends the wisdom of reliance on ‘soft law’, international guidance that leaves plenty of room for each nation to construct its response in conformity with its own cultural and value requirements.

Impact and interest:

9 citations in Scopus
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10 citations in Web of Science®

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ID Code: 70804
Item Type: Journal Article
Refereed: Yes
DOI: 10.1111/j.1753-6405.2010.00492.x
ISSN: 1326-0200
Divisions: Current > QUT Faculties and Divisions > Faculty of Law
Current > Research Centres > Australian Centre for Health Law Research
Current > Schools > School of Law
Copyright Owner: Copyright 2010 The Authors. Journal Compilation © 2010 Public Health Association of Australia
Deposited On: 30 Apr 2014 05:13
Last Modified: 12 Sep 2016 03:05

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