In early 2014, a devastating epidemic of Ebola broke out across Guinea, Liberia, and Sierra Leone, which then spread to other countries and led to the deaths of more than 11,000 people. In response, the affected countries declared states of emergency, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the epidemic to be a public health emergency of international concern, and the United Nations (UN) determined the epidemic was a threat to international peace and security. Though these actions helped confront the spread of Ebola, the WHO’s and UN’s responses were too slow and too inefficient to effectively combat the disease. To end this epidemic and to address future epidemics, the WHO and UN must be strengthened with more robust enforcement capabilities and increased funding. Further, the international community must recognize that Ebola is as much a threat to international peace and security as an act of war. Thus, states should react to disease outbreaks just as they would react to an act of war by utilizing the principle of self-defense pursuant to Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter.
A Combative Disease: The Ebola Epidemic in International Law,
B.C. Int'l & Comp. L. Rev.