International Legal Training Program


Group photo - May 2017
Participants and McCabe staff from the May 2017 training program

About the Program

The Program consists of an intensive 3-week training course conducted twice a year at the McCabe Centre in Melbourne, Australia, and follow-up information-sharing and support. The Program builds capacity in the use of law to prevent and control cancer and other non-communicable diseases (NCDs) particularly in the context of developing coherence between health, sustainable development, trade and investment. It is aimed primarily at government lawyers from low- and middle-income countries.

The Program responds to the needs created by the rising burden of cancer and other NCDs, and their impacts on development. It supports the implementation by states of their commitments under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the 2011 UN Political Declaration on the Prevention and Control of NCDs, the 2014 Outcome document of the High-level meeting of the General Assembly on the comprehensive review and assessment of the progress achieved in the prevention and control of NCDs, the World Health Organization's Global action plan for the prevention and control of NCDs 2013-2020, and the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC), and related regional statements and action plans.

The Program addresses the pressing need for legal capacity building regularly expressed by low-and middle-income country governments. It supports governments by educating, empowering and supporting local policy-makers, leaders and champions.

The Program is conducted in collaboration with the Secretariat to the WHO FCTC, as a McCabe Centre WHO FCTC knowledge hub activity, and the World Health Organization.

The training course has been run seven times since the pilot program in February 2014, and 135 participants from 61 countries have attended so far.

Course Curriculum

The course consists of:

  • a structured 2-week curriculum of presentations, discussion, group work, case studies and practical exercises
  • a semi-structured third week, during which participants work on projects of priority for their country and/or region with assistance and support from McCabe Centre staff, fellow participants, and external experts.

The curriculum covers legal issues relevant to cancer / NCD prevention, with a focus on regulating risk factors, particularly tobacco use. It includes sessions on:

  • global governance
  • the post-2015 sustainable development agenda
  • the global NCD agenda
  • legal issues in cancer prevention
  • the WHO FCTC
  • domestic legal challenges to tobacco control
  • international trade law
  • international investment law
  • intellectual property law
  • the negotiation of trade and investment agreements
  • the trade and investment challenges to Australia and Uruguay's tobacco packaging and labelling measures
  • law enforcement in low-resource settings

Ongoing Support

The Program provides ongoing networks of information-sharing and support, both between the McCabe Centre and participants and among participants.

Selection of Participants

Participants are selected in coordination with the WHO FCTC Secretariat, WHO headquarters and regional and country offices The primary selection criterion is that participants are well-placed to benefit from the Program and apply their learning and new networks to legal and policy developments in their country and/or region. While primarily targeted at low- and middle-income countries, the Program is also open to participation from high-income countries.

Major Partners

The McCabe Centre is grateful for the generous support of the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the primary supporter of the Program. We are also grateful for support for participation in the Program that has been provided by Cancer Council Australia, the William Rudder Memorial Fund, the American Cancer Society, the Pacific Community, the Secretariat to the WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, the WHO Regional Offices for Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, Europe and the Western Pacific, the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids.

Other Training and Capacity-Building Activities

The McCabe Centre conducts a range of other training and capacity building activities, including in conjunction with the biennial World Cancer Congress. It works with partners, including WHO, the WHO FCTC Secretariat, UNDP, governments, and civil society to facilitate and support training and capacity building activities in other countries and regions.

If you are interested in learning more, or supporting the Program, please contact Samantha Robertson (, Office Manager