The above analysis of the revised IHR, international trade law, and international human rights law assumes that the expanded NQS would be applying public health measures in U.S. territory. As noted earlier, the Consultant understands that the federal government may wish to include in the expansion of the NQS the placement of U.S. public health personnel and resources in the territories of foreign countries. This aspect of the strategy to expand the NQS raises different international considerations, which this part briefly explores.

The federal government generally, and the CDC specifically, have great experience with using public health experts and resources in international cooperation with other countries and international organizations. To the Consultant’s knowledge, such cooperative ventures traditionally have not involved, however, establishing a permanent presence in other countries for purposes of minimizing exogenous threats to public health in the United States. Such a permanent presence implicates some basic principles of international law worth noting in this memorandum.

Federal government plans to expand the NQS by establishing assets overseas would require the full cooperation and permission of the foreign governments because these governments have sovereignty over their territories that the United States cannot infringe under international law. The principle prohibiting interference in the domestic affairs of other states supports the principle of sovereignty in underscoring the necessity that “forward deployment” of the expanded NQS be agreed in advance between the federal government and the foreign government.

Such agreements may be informal or formal under international law. The nature of the activities that the expanded NQS might undertake in the foreign country (e.g., inspection goods, cargo, and travelers bound for the United States) touch, however, on aspects of sovereignty and the organization of a country’s domestic affairs that would make the expanded NQS’ activities politically sensitive for a foreign government. A foreign government might be nervous about what kinds of information flows between the part of the expanded NQS in its territory and the rest of the system back in the United States. In all likelihood, a foreign government agreeing to host assets and personnel from the expanded NQS will require that the scope of the expanded NQS’ activities in its territory be carefully delineated in a formal, written agreement.

Another reason why a foreign government may insist on clearly defining the nature of the expanded NQS’ activities in its territory relates to that government’s own responsibilities under international law. A foreign government will need to avoid situations in which inspections and control

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement