Matiangai Sirleaf, JD is an Assistant Professor of Law at the University of Pittsburgh Law School. Sirleaf will be presenting her critical research on Africa, Ebola Does Not Fall from the Sky: Global Structural Violence and International Responses, in 4130 Posvar on Thursday, February 15 at 2 pm.
Ebola Does Not Fall from the Sky: Global Structural Violence and International Responses- presents 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 are 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 illness.
This Article clarifies how the concept of structural violence can be operationalized in law. In particular, it illustrates the ways in which the international 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 crises are conceptualized needs to be expanded beyond merely addressing direct physical violence internationally, but to also include remedying structural violence. Additionally, this study indicates that the complicated relationship between infectious diseases and conflict warrants more robust attention and resources. Finally, shared international responsibility norms should be developed to assist in expanding the tools available for the protection of human rights and the alleviation of large-scale human suffering caused by infectious diseases like Ebola.