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Infectious Disease Global Governance Research

Feasibility Study Commissioned by The Hague Institute of Global Justice

In 2012, The Hague Institute of Global Justice (THIGJ) commissioned ISTAR to conduct a feasibility study, inter alia, to identify the knowledge and regulatory gaps and inconsistencies in the global governance for infectious diseases.  This study culminated in an expert meeting at THIGJ on October 10, 2012, in which ISTAR presented its findings and in which further research was contemplated.

The impetus for the study was a March 12, 2012 workshop convened by THIGJ and the 3TU. Center for Ethics and Technology (3TU.Ethics) in which participants agreed that further research on governance structures for infectious diseases, including issues of biosecurity and dual use research, should be undertaken. Speakers at the workshop included: Harvey Rubin, Michael Imperiale, Ron Fouchier, Andreas Reis, Edwin Bakker, Nicole Troisfontaine, and Koos van der Bruggen. Dr. Imperiale commented explicitly on this in his July 11, 2012 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists piece, entitled Dual-Use Research after the Avian Influenza Controversy, where he stated:

“Given that the life sciences research enterprise is global, and the entire world stands to benefit from the progress being made (or possibly suffer from its misuse), it seems obvious that the risk-benefit assessment process for dual-use research of concern must be an international undertaking. Any such system must also involve all the stakeholders, including scientists, funding agencies, experts in biosecurity, and the public, to name just a few. … Creating such a multidisciplinary, global assessment body is easier said than done, of course, and international politics will certainly rear its ugly head. But the global risks of dual-use research cannot be properly addressed by one country alone, no matter how influential or scientifically developed it might be.”

While the origin of the feasibility study is to be found in the limited area of dual use biomedical research of concern, addressing the more general problem of the global crisis in infectious disease governance is the overall driving motivation for the feasibility study.