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The Normalisation of sanitary alarms - a sociologic analysis of the revision of WHO International Health Regulations

Didier Torny
French National Institute for Agricultural Research, Paris

Date: 10 October 2006
Time: 1-2.30pm
Venue: CARR Seminar Room, H615

Abstract
At the beginning of the 1980s, in the context of diminishing infectious diseases and the confirmed eradication of small pox, IHR seems to be a remainder of the past, the international sanitary action focusing on different threats: malnutrition, access to drugs, hygiene programs, nicotinism, alcoholism or chronic diseases. From a process of norms based on local policing powers, regulatory interventions kept on going towards the establishment of international standards into the biomedical or medico-social field. However, the revised 2005 version of IHR shows a much more normative character than its predecessor of 1969 (amended 1984). My presentation will analyse the necessary conditions of this revision, underlying the role of (re-)emerging diseases as a key concept, describe the ten-year process of revision (1995-2005) in its key moments (especially the SARS epidemic), question the absence of public interest in IHR (contrary to other similar regulations, such as WTO texts) and suggest that this soon-to-be implemented sets of rules and device embodies an impending international community based on the management of sanitary alarms.

Biography
Didier Torny (PhD, Sociology) is a junior scientist at the French National Institute for Agricultural Research. He has extensively studied alerts and alarm raisers in the sanitary fields of asbestos, prion diseases and human immunization. Based on a pragmatic sociology, his current work is focused on the analysis of various methods of public and private normative action, whether conflictual or consensual, their genesis, their application and their consequences. His research involves comparative fieldwork in the domains of agriculture and food, animal and human health, in order to better understand their respective transformations (e.g. pesticides, avian influenza).

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