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Do the containment measures taken by Italy in relation to COVID-19 comply with human rights law?

Italians, like the citizens of other democratic countries in times of peace, have learned to take for granted certain civil liberties and freedoms, such as the freedom of movement and assembly. It suddenly became evident to them that the enjoyment of these rights can be limited as the country has now been put on lockdown by the government, in an attempt to contain the spread of COVID-19, a disease caused by a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). This post will enquire about the compatibility of the containment measures taken by the Italian government with Italy’s obligations under human rights law, and particularly with the European Convention on Human Rigths (ECHR) and with the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). While there are many human rights dimensions relevant to the issue of combating the spread of COVID-19, this post is limited to showing that the measures taken by the Italian government are so far compatible with human rights law. The myth that strict containment measures cannot be adopted in a democratic…

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The Outbreak of COVID-19 Coronavirus: are the International Health Regulations fit for purpose?

  The outbreak of coronavirus first detected in December 2019 in Wuhan, China (COVID-19 in WHO’s parlance) has taken the world by surprise and confirmed our shared global vulnerability to the appearance of new pathogens, in particular airborne viruses that spread easily through travel and social proximity. As of 25 February 2020, China had reported more than 77…

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Deweaponising the Biological Weapons Convention: Can an arms control instrument enhance the global disease surveillance?

  On January 30, 2020, the World Health Organization (“WHO”) declared the outbreak of the coronavirus disease COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (“PHEIC”). The legal significance a PHEIC under the International Health Regulations (“IHR”) has already been addressed on EJIL:Talk!. Though the most comprehensive, the IHR are not the only international instrument…

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Human Rights and the Environment: The UN Human Rights Committee Affirms the Duty to Protect

Recently, the Human Rights Committee published its views in the case Portillo Cáceres v. Paraguay (currently available only in Spanish). In this landmark decision, the Committee dealt, for the first time, with the question of the States’ duty to protect individuals from environmental degradation under articles 6 (right to life) and 17 (protection of the…

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More on Public International Law and Infectious Diseases: Foundations of the Obligation to Report Epidemic Outbreaks

In his recent post on the 2018-2019 Ebola Outbreak in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mr. Villarreal inter alia mentions the connection between the International Health Regulations (IHR) and international human rights law, arguing that states' obligations under the IHR are to be read in conjunction with those under the International Covenant on Economic,…

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