Global Health

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Part I: Due Diligence and COVID-19: States’ Duties to Prevent and Halt the Coronavirus Outbreak

This is a 3-Part post on the international legal framework relevant to the prevention of, response to and mitigation of the global public health crisis engendered by the outbreak of COVID-19 — the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Part I introduces the concept of due diligence which characterises the said legal framework and looks at relevant rules of general international law and international human rights law. Part II focuses on the International Health Regulations and the international rules applicable to the protection of persons in the event of disasters. Part III assesses some reported government measures to address the crisis in light of the analysed legal framework and suggests a way ahead. The COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve rapidly around the world with hundreds of lives claimed every single day. Although the measures imposed to control the spread of the disease have varied across countries, it is evident that they have and will continue to hit us hard, whether it is the psychological toll of social distancing and self-isolation,…

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COVID-19 and Defences in the Law of State Responsibility: Part II

In our previous post, we considered whether States could rely on the plea of force majeure in respect of non-performance of international obligations connected to their efforts to contain the COVID-19. We concluded that force majeure might not provide a defence to States since their measures in addressing the spread of the virus were voluntary measures. In this…

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COVID-19 and Defences in the Law of State Responsibility: Part I

As at 16 March 2020, there were nearly 165.000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, and 6.470 deaths in 146 countries or territories. The outbreak was declared a Public Health Emergency of International Concern by the Director-General of the WHO on 30 January 2020 which, according to the 2005 International Health Regulations, is an ‘extraordinary event’ which,…

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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,…

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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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