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Ebola Does Not Fall from the Sky: Structural Violence & International Responsibility

This Article challenges the conventional understanding that international crises are limited to instances of direct physical violence. Instead, it argues that the disproportionate distribution of infectious diseases like Ebola is a form of structural violence that warrants international intervention. In the field of global public health, structural violence is a concept used to describe health inequities and to draw attention to the differential risks for infection in the Global South, and among those already infected, for adverse consequences including death, injury, and ill- ness. This Article clarifies how the concept of structural violence can be operationalized in law. It illustrates the ways in which actors can facilitate conditions for structural violence by analyzing the international public health and peace and security regimes.

This Article has several important contributions. First, the way international actors conceptualize crises should be expanded beyond merely addressing direct physical violence, but to also include remedying structural violence. Additionally, this study indicates that the complicated relationship between infectious dis- eases and conflict deserves more robust attention and resources. Moreover, this study examines the limits of the law governing international responsibility and concludes that shared international responsibility norms should be developed to assist in expanding the tools available for the protection of human rights.

Lastly, this Article finds that the burgeoning field of international disaster law holds promise for responding to the challenges posed by infectious diseases like Ebola and the alleviation of large-scale human suffering caused by such diseases.

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