ATLANTA - William J. Long, PhD, JD, Dean of the Georgia State University College of Arts and Sciences, spoke to College of Law students on April 3 as part of Law Week, an annual week-long series of student-organized events honoring the legal profession. At the session, which was co-sponsored by the Student Health Law Association (SHLA), the Asian American Law Students (AALS), and the Intellectual Property Law Society (IPLS), Long discussed his recent research and newest book "Pandemics and Peace: Public Health Cooperation in Zones of Conflict," released by the United States Institute of Peace.
"Dr. Long is a distinguished scholar, an academic, and an accomplished author," College of Law Dean Steven Kaminshine said of Long in his introduction.
In his presentation, Long explored why traditionally adversarial countries may cooperate to address global health concerns not limited to a single country of region. A widespread pandemic with high mortality could bring governments to a halt, potentially instigating widespread violence and looting.
Transnational organizations comprised of public and private regional actors have come together to address public health concerns enhancing surveillance, reporting, and training efforts. "Is health the leading edge of peace?" Long asked. "Can we apply lessons from health to other transnational problems?"
Long examined three recent cooperative efforts: the Mekong Basin Disease Surveillance Network, the Middle East Consortium on Infectious Disease, and the East African Integrated Disease Surveillance Network. "I especially appreciated Dean Long's emphasis on examples of cooperation rather than conflict," reflected Sarah Ketchie, 2L, SHLA President. "I think there is a lot to take away from this scenario on how we can reach common ground with even the most unlikely of allies in order to meet and overcome large-scale threats to the population."
"This presentation illustrated how scientists with the same goal of improving their nation's health can overlook political boundaries for the common good, especially because infectious diseases pay little attention to borders," agreed Greg Fosheim, 1L, SHLA president-elect.
Long contended that the U.S. should not attempt to be physically involved in these organizations. Physical involvement by the U.S. "would be like landing an aircraft carrier in a tub - too large, too explosive," said Long. Instead, the U.S. has an opportunity to make even greater impact by providing additional funding and scientific expertise.
To answer whether the lessons learned through cooperation could translate to other international concerns, Long asserted that there is both potential to replicate the model of cooperation around health-related issues and challenges that may arise. With a fuller understanding of successful transnational cooperation, practitioners and policymakers will have a greater opportunity to apply the lessons learned to other international concerns such as terrorism, resource management, and human rights protections.
Observed Samuel Park, 2L, AALS treasurer, "[Long] was cautiously optimistic as to whether cooperation in health-related matters could transfer to other aspects of governance." He added, "It was a fascinating , thought-provoking presentation."
To view the presentation, please click here.
Stacie P. Kershner, JD
Associate Director, Center for Law, Health & Society