70125 - International Law and Health

Course Unit Page


This teaching activity contributes to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN 2030 Agenda.

No poverty Good health and well-being Partnerships for the goals

Academic Year 2019/2020

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course the student has an in-depth understanding of the relationship between international law and public health. The student becomes familiar with the principal issues of international health law, including the major international health Treaties and governing structures. The focus of the course is especially oriented on international institutions such as: the World Health Organization, UNAIDS, the World Trade Organization, the International Labor Organization, and the World Bank; and on the important role that those play in the international health governance and in the development of health regulation and policy. A comprehensive approach to international health law involves multiple, interrelated fields, including trade, economics, intellectual property, human rights, ethics, and national security. Through the unit, the student is trained to identify legal issues and to explore the tension between public goals and private rights and interests, and he/she is expected to apply the law to particular policy contexts and public health issues and to critically evaluate the laws effectiveness in protecting and promoting the public health.

Course contents

Course description

This course provides a critical overview of the contemporary international legal framework concerning the right to health. The course will focus on the following issues:

a) Definition, scope and functions of international health law;

b) The right to health as a fundamental human right: special characters and challenges, especially health care privatisation and corruption;

c) The role of WHO as the main institutional agency in international health governance and its regulatory role;

d) NGOs and the delivery of health care services to migrants;

e) European health law, including cross-border health care

f) Public-Private Partnerships as legal tools whereby to organise and supply health care services



1. Benjamin Mason Meier and Lawrence O. Gostin, “Framing Human Rights in Global Health Governance”, in B.M. Meier – L.O. Gostin (eds.), Human Rights in Global Health. Rights-based governance for a Globalizing world, Oxford University Press, 2018, Chapter 3

2. Christopher Newdick, “Global capitalism and the crisis of the public interest – sleepwalking into disaster”, in S. Breau and K. Samuel (eds), "Research Handbook on Disasters and International Law," (2016, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, UK), pp. 23-45

3. Audrey Chapman, “The Impact of Reliance on Private Sector Health Services on the Right to Health”, Health and Human Rights, July 1, 2014, Volume 16, Number 1, pp. 1-14

4. Brigit Toebes, “Human Rights, Health Sector Abuse and Corruption”, human rights & human welfare - working paper no. 64 - Posted on 1 April 2011 (pp. 1-40)

5. Roberto de Vogli, Noemi Renzetti, “The Potential Impact of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on public health”, Epidemiol Prev 2016; 40 (2):95-102


1. David P. Fidler and Lawrence O. Gostin, The New International Health Regulations: An Historic Development for International Law and Public Health, (2006) Articles by Maurer Faculty. Paper 370 - download from: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1371&context=facpub, pp. 85-94

2. Alceste Santuari, The provision of health care services to migrants in times of welfare crisis: a new role for Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs)? The case of the Italian health and legal system, in Rivista del Diritto della Sicurezza Sociale (RDSS), Il Mulino, n. 4/2017, pp. 715-738


1. Tamara K. Hervey, “Telling stories about European Union Health Law: The emergence of a new field of law”, in Comparative European Politics, 2016, pp. 1–18

2. Scott L Greer, Tamara K Hervey, Johan P Mackenbach, Martin McKee, “Health law and policy in the European Union”, in Lancet 2013; 381: 1135–44

3. Alceste Santuari, “Legal and organisational innovation in the Italian pharmacy system: commercial vs public interest”, in Health Economics Policy and Law, 2017 Apr 26:1-19


André den Exter, Alceste Santuari and Tomislav Sokol, “One Year after the EU Patient Mobility Directive: A Three-Country Analysis”, in European Law Review, Issue 2, 2015, pp. 279-293

M. Frischhut, R. Levaggi, “Patient mobility in the context of austerity and an enlarged EU: The European Court of Justice’s ruling in the Petru Case”, in Health Policy 119 (2015), Pages 1293–1297

M. Frischhut, N. Fahy, “Patient Mobility in Times of Austerity: A Legal and Policy Analysis of the Petru Case”, in European Journal of Health Law 23 (2016) pp. 36-60


Jens K. Roehrich, Michael A. Lewis, Gerard George, “Are public-private partnerships a healthy option? A systematic literature review”, Social Science & Medicine 113 (2014) pp. 110-119

Jome KS, Anis Chowdhury, Krishnan Sharma, Daniel Platz, “Public-Private Partnerships and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Fit for purpose?”, in DESA Working Paper No. 148, February 2016

Teaching methods

Lectures, case studies and project works

Assessment methods

The overall assessment will be based on both project works (40% of the total grade) and a final written examination (60% of the total grade). This will consist of up to 6 open questions.

Teaching tools

Teaching materials will be uploaded on the lecturer's website.

Office hours

See the website of Alceste Santuari