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Some Vaccination Questions, Ethical and Legal

It’s difficult to think of a more pressing problem today than how scarce coronavirus vaccines should be distributed between and within states. Newspapers are full of discussions of ‘vaccine nationalism,’ of the EU-UK-Astra Zeneca row, or of the limited availability of vaccines in the developing world. For us as international lawyers, obviously, the further issue – one to which we can meaningfully contribute – is to what extent should that conversation about the distribution of a scarce resource indispensable for maintaining public health and general welfare be shaped by international law. In particular, by human rights law, whether universal or regional, customary or conventional. Any such legal analysis of course has to start with the text of the treaties and refer to the relevant general comments of the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Human Rights Committee, and to the work of UN special procedures – as Diane has done admirably in her post from yesterday. But even if framed in positivist terms it seems inevitable that this analysis…

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Equitable COVID Vaccine Distribution and Access: Enforcing International Legal Obligations under Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights and the Right to Development

Editor's Note: This post was prepared in advance of my remarks for the 12 February 2021 Global Webinar of the Notre Dame Eck Institute of Global Health ("Are we all in this together? Assessing and addressing equitable access and distributive justice in global supply chains during major disease outbreaks").  By this time, US pharmaceutical companies…

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ICJ Jurisdiction over Obligations to Share Information with the WHO

It has been almost a year since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the Covid-19 outbreak a public health emergency of international concern (PHEIC) and many parts of the world are still suffering deaths, disease, and lockdowns despite the advent of vaccines. Yet little has happened in terms of international responsibility, even if the blogosphere has produced…

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China’s Recent Restrictions on Trade and the SPS Agreement

Since June 2020, China turned its eye on trade measures to battle the spread of COVID-19 in its country. It introduced several measures, from extensive testing of containers and content of imported food and agricultural products to complete import bans of specific products (such as pork from Tönnies and poultry products from Tyson Foods Inc.

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The Brazilian Federal Supreme Court comes to the protection of indigenous people’s right to health in the face of Covid-19

In August 2020, the plenary of the Brazilian Federal Supreme Court delivered a decision affirming the legal capacity of an indigenous movement, the Articulation of Indigenous Peoples of Brazil (APIB), to bring a claim before the Supreme Court for the review of actions and omissions of the federal government and the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) when addressing…

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