23.a. International Health Regulations, U.S. note to depositary (Dec. 13, 2006)
Geneva, 13 December
The Permanent Mission of the United States of America to the United Nations Office and Other
International Organizations in Geneva presents its compliments to the World Health
Organization and refers to the International Health Regulations (2005) adopted in Geneva on
May 24, 2005 (the IHRs). The Mission, by means of this note, informs the Acting Director-
General of the World Health Organization that the Government of the United States of America
accepts the IHRs, subject to the reservation and understandings referred to below.
The Mission, by means of this note, and in accordance with Article 22 of the Constitution of the World Health Organization and Article 59(1)of the IHRs, submits the following reservation on behalf of the Government of the United States of America:
The Government of the United States of America reserves the right to assume obligations under these Regulations in a manner consistent with its fundamental principles of federalism. With respect toobligations concerning the development, strengthening, and maintenance of the core capacity requirements set forth in Annex I, these Regulations shall be implemented by the Federal Government or the state governments, as appropriate and in accordance with our Constitution, to the extent that the implementation of these obligations comes under the legal jurisdiction of the Federal Government. To the extent that such obligations come under the legal jurisdiction of the state governments, the Federal Government shall bring such obligations with a favorable recommendation to the notice of the appropriate state authorities.
The Mission, by means of this note, also submits three understandings on behalf of the Government of the United States of America. The first understanding relates to the application of the IHRs to incidents involving the natural, accidental or deliberate release of chemical, biological or radiological materials:
In view of the definitions of “disease,” “event,” and “public health emergency of international concern” as set forth in Article I of these Regulations, the notification requirements of Articles 6 and 7, and the decision instrument and guidelines set forth in Annex 2, the United States understands that States Parties to these Regulations have assumed an obligation to notify toWHO potential public health emergencies of international concern, irrespective of origin or source, whether they involve the natural, accidental or deliberate release of biological, chemical or radionuclear materials.
The second understanding relates to the application of Article 9 of the IHRs:
Article 9 of these Regulations obligates a State Party “as far as practicable” to notify the World Health Organization (WHO) of evidence received by that State of a public health risk occurring outside of its territory that may result in the international spread of disease.
Among other notifications that could prove to be impractical under this article, it is the United States understanding that any notification that would undermine the ability of the U.S. Armed Forces to operate effectively in pursuit of U.S. national security interests would not be considered practical for purposes of this Article.
The third understanding relates to the question of whether the IHRs create judicially enforceable private rights. Based on its delegation’s participation in the negotiations of the IHRs, the Government of the United States of America does not believe that the IHRs were intended to create judicially enforceable private rights:
The United States understands that the provisions of the Regulations do not create judicially enforceable private rights.
The Permanent Mission of the United States of America avails itself of this opportunity to renew to the World Health Organization the assurances of its highest consideration.