Public health emergencies, including natural and man-made pandemics, represent a significant threat to human prosperity and wellbeing. Aware of this risk, law-makers involved in the development of public health responses have designed or applied regulatory measures to prepare for, respond to and, if possible, mitigate the risk of global pandemics.
This mid-term review will present the preliminary findings of a study of the extent to which ‘securitization’ features as a [globalising] mechanism in the design and justification of Australia’s regulatory regime for the prevention and response to pandemics and if this orients those regimes away from a ‘public health’ design.
Drawing upon the work of Braithwaite and Drahos (2000) in relation to the mechanisms for the globalisation of rules and principles, and the work of the Copenhagen School on ‘securitization theory’ (Buzan, Wæver, and De Wilde 1998; Buzan 1991; M. C. Williams 2003), this presentation will present an early analysis of data gained from documentary and legislative sources, and interviews with senior officials, life-science researchers and politicians. It will focus on the three case studies: the development of Australia’s new ‘biosecurity’ laws from 2001-2015; the consequences of ‘securitizing moves’ during the 2013-14 West Africa Ebola outbreak and the swine flu epidemic in 2009; and the extension of securitization to public health researchers via the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012.
The significance of this project will be its use of innovative research methods, its detailed analysis of securitization as part of public health law-making in Australia and its examination of the consequences on individual and community rights and the principles of medical ethics that ought to underpin the practice of health care during a public health emergency.
Tim Vines is a RegNet PhD Scholar, undertaking his program part-time. Tim is also an Assistant Director of Ethics and Integrity at the National Health and Medical Research Council, where he has been responsible for overseeing human and animal research ethics (and ethics committees) and clinical trials policy. Tim is also Vice President of Civil Liberties Australia, a NGO based in Canberra.
Vines T, ‘Beakers and Borders: Export Controls and the Life-sciences under the Defence Trade Controls Act 2012’, (2018) 25 Journal of Law and Medicine (JLM) 655