CLT657: Global Health: Law and Governance

School Cardiff Law School
Department Code LAWPL
Module Code CLT657
External Subject Code M290
Number of Credits 30
Level L7
Language of Delivery English
Module Leader Professor John Harrington
Semester Spring Semester
Academic Year 2017/8

Outline Description of Module

This module studies the developing regime of Global Health Law and Governance. It addresses the manner in which law and other forms of regulation facilitates or impedes the achievement of key health objectives in substantive areas such as access to essential medicines, control of infectious diseases, cross-border medical research, reduction of tobacco usage; promotion of breastfeeding and so on.

Key normative regimes at different levels of the global system are studied, for example; the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights, the WTO’s agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property; the normative output of the World Health organization; as well as the role of regional and national fora – courts and legislatures - in implementing, resisting, translating and producing global health law and related normative regimes. Particular attention is given to the role of soft-law and standard setting bodies, as well as the role of private interests in global health governance.

Students are introduced to models of global governance through the use of actor-network theory to consider the development and fortunes of the WHO Code of Marketing on Breast Milk Substitutes. This is followed by a consideration of key writings on global health justice These offer diverse arguments concerning the ethical framework which best underpins global health law and will allow it to develop in a defensible manner in response to emerging health challenges.

Seminars dealing with substantive issues in global health law and governance take an interdisciplinary approach, drawing relevant legal-doctrinal discussions on this material in ethics and political philosophy, as well as from anthropology, public health, political science, medical history and critical social theory. Through structured class room discussions, student-led presentations and formative assessment work, students are enabled to integrate these perspectives in grasping the dynamic evolution of global health law and governance.

This module is well suited to students studying on masters programmes in law and in politics/ international relations.

On completion of the module a student should be able to

In relation to the elements of the syllabus and with reference to appropriate source material:

1     Discuss systems of law and governance in global health with reference to the relevant international treaty, regional and national legislation, as well as case-law sources.

2          Evaluate the underlying policy and theoretical bases for the law (for example, in terms of ethical and political theory, policy, consideration of individual and collective rights and so on).

3          Demonstrate an awareness of the social, political and historical context within which the law has developed and the issues in global health law that are currently the subject of debate at national and international level.

4          Critically evaluate a given issue in the law and relate the legal issues to the practical effects of the law and the underlying policy and theoretical basis, having conducted appropriate research.

5          In relation to topics where detailed research has been undertaken, identify and explain the important academic writing and the issues and areas of debate raised in it.

How the module will be delivered

10 x 2-hour seminars; 5 x 1-hour lectures.  Students will be expected to undertake directed reading and some independent research for the seminars.

During the seminars, students – working in teams will be required to make presentations to class on an aspect of the topic under discussion. The class teacher and fellow students will give structured feedback on the content of their preparation and their method of delivery. Students will also be required in discussions in small groups, followed by plenary discussions within the class.

There will be a formative assessment which will address elements of the summative assessment (research for and writing an essay, solving a problem). Students may opt for their presentation and supporting ‘brief’ to be evaluated as their work for formative assessment.

Lectures will introduce students to key areas covered in the seminars, providing an overview and introduction, and a critical review of developments. Teaching will be supplemented where appropriate by guest lectures and documentary films on global health issues.  

Skills that will be practised and developed

Research, problem analysis and solving, working in small groups, presenting the results of research, legal writing, awareness of the political context and ethical significance of issues arising in global health law. Appreciation of the conditions within which health sciences and law interact and the limitations to this interaction presented by dominant structures and ideologies.

How the module will be assessed

Type of assessment: Essay

% Contribution: 100%

Duration: 5,000 words

Approx. date of Assessment: May 2018


The opportunity for reassessment in this module

Students failing to achieve an overall pass mark of 50% will be permitted to retake the assessment during the Resit Examination Period.

Assessment Breakdown

Type % Title Duration(hrs)
Written Assessment 100 Essay - 5,000 Words N/A

Syllabus content

Week 1

Lecture: Introduction to Global Health Law and Governance

Seminar: Module Overview: Actors and Structures in Global Health Law and Governance


Week 2

Seminar: Post-Westphalianism; governance and globalization; case study - WHO Baby Food Marketing Code


Week 3

Lecture: Governance of Cross-Border Research

Seminar: Theories of health and global justice: Pogge, Singer, Daniels, Fraser


Week 4

Seminar: Clinical Trials and ethical relativism, AZT trials; Trovan Litigation


Week 5

Lecture: Health, Security and Justice

Seminar: Genomics and Biobanking


Week 6

Seminar: Infectious Disease Control: WHO International Health Regulations


Week 7

Lecture: The Right to Health in Ethics and Law

Seminar: Art 12 ICESCR; General Comment 14; work of Special Rapporteurs


Week 8

Seminar: South Africa; Brazil; India – distributive effects of litigation


Week 9

Lecture: Intellectual Property and Access to Medicines

Seminar:TRIPS; Doha Declaration; FTAs



Seminar: WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control


Essential Reading and Resource List

L Gostin, Global Health Law (Cambridge [Ma], Harvard UP 2014).

M Freeman, B Bennett & S Hawkes (eds), Law and Global Health. Current Legal Issues, vol. 16 (Oxford, Oxford University Press 2014).

K Lee, The World Health Organization (WHO) (London, Routledge, 2008).

TW Pogge, World Poverty and Human Rights: Cosmopolitan Responsibilities and Reforms (Cambridge, Polity Press, 2002).

P Farmer, Pathologies of Power. Health, Human Rights and the New War on the Poor (Berkeley California UP 2005)

J Harrington and M Stuttaford (eds), Global Health and Human Rights: Legal and Philosophical Perspectives (London, Routledge 2010).

J Harrington, O Aginam and P Yu (eds), Global Governance of HIV/ AIDS: Intellectual Property and Access to Essential Medicines (London, Edward Elgar 2013)

Background Reading and Resource List

N Daniels, Just Health Care (Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1985)

JP Ruger, ‘Normative Foundations of Global Health Law’, 96 Georgetown Law Journal 423-443 (2008).

N Fraser, ‘Reframing Justice in a Globalizing World’ (2005) 36 New Left Review 69-90.

P Singer, ‘Famine, Affluence and Morality’, 1 Philosophy and Public Affairs 229-243 (1972).

S Burris, ‘Governance, Microgovernance and Health’, 77 Temple Law Review 335-358 (2004).

R Dodgson, K Lee and N Drager, Global Health Governance. A Conceptual Review, Discussion Paper Paper No.1 (Geneva, WHO, 2002).

C Waldby, 'Oöcyte Markets: Women's Reproductive Labour in Embryonic Stem Cell Research' (2008) 27(1) New Genetics and Society 19-31.

OLM Ferraz, Right to Health Litigation in Brazil: An Overview of the Research -,paper presented at University Torquato di Tella, Buenos Aires, April 2009 =

J Collin, ‘The Global Economy and the Tobacco Pandemic’, in K Lee & J Collin (eds), Global Change and Health (Maidenhead, Open University Press, 2005) 111-125.

C Dresler and S Marks, ‘The Emerging Human Right to Tobacco Control, 28 Human Rights Quarterly 599-651 (2006).

P Drahos, ‘Four Lessons for Developing Countries from the Trade Negotiations over Access to Medicines’ (2007) 28 Liverpool Law Review 11-39.

P Drahos and J Braithwaite, Who Owns the Knowledge Economy? Political Organizing Behind TRIPS (Sturminster Newton, Corner House, 2004)

L Forman, ‘Ensuring Reasonable Health: Health Rights, the Judiciary and South African HIV/ AIDS Policy’, 33 Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 711-724 (2005).

BM Meier and AM Fox, ‘Development as Health: Employing the Collective Right to Development to Achieve the Goals of the Individual Right to Health’, 30 Human Rights Quarterly 259-355 (2008).

N Scheper-Hughes, ‘The Global Traffic in Human Organs’ (2000) 41 Current Anthropology 1-22.

E Rivera-Lopez, ‘Organ Sales and Moral Distress’ (2006) 23 Journal of Applied Philosophy 41-52.

NB King, ‘Security, Disease Commerce: Ideologies of Postcolonial Global Health’ (2002) 32 (5-6) Social Studies of Science 763-789.

DP Fidler, ‘SARS: Political Pathology of the First Post-Westphalian Pathogen’, 31 Journal of Law, Medicine and Ethics 485-505 (2003).

R Teitel, ‘The alien tort and the global rule of law’ 57 International Social Science Journal (2005),  551-560.

A Petryna, ‘Ethical Variability: Drug Development and Globalizing Clinical Trials’, 32 American Ethnologist 183-197 (2005).

KS Rajan, ‘Experimental Values: Indian Clinical Trials and Surplus Health’ (2007) 45 New Left Review 67-88.

A Linnecar, ‘International Baby Food Action Network: Defending Every Child's Birthright’ (1997) 5 International Journal of Childrens Rights 473-498.

Copyright Cardiff University. Registered charity no. 1136855