We live in an era when the very foundations of civilized society are shifting or collapsing. National sovereignty is no longer accepted as an absolute right or as a shield from enquiry into local oppression. Rather than being protected in times of conflict, women and children have now become primary targets in avenging ancient hatreds and the victims of violence that is justified by grossly misreading the lessons of religion and history. Instant communications make human-rights violations and widespread physical suffering matters of personal concern; they can never again be relegated to the shadows of our minds, for now willful inaction makes us participants in crimes against humanity. The speed of travel has irrevocably altered the efficacy of standard quarantine protection-Ebola, plague and bioterrorism are very real threats to people all over the world.