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Pandemic Intrigue in Geneva: COVID-19 and the 73rd World Health Assembly

The 73rd World Health Assembly took place on 18 and 19 May, 2020. It is a yearly gathering of all 194 Member States of the World Health Organization (WHO) taking place in its headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. As established in Articles 18 to 23 of the Constitution of the WHO, the World Health Assembly is its maximum decision-making body. Resolutions and decisions are discussed, approved or rejected, including subjects such as the functioning of the WHO´s existing programmes, budgetary matters, or the need to respond to emerging health challenges. Exceptionally, the Assembly may adopt conventions and regulations legally binding for Member States. Both the International Health Regulations (IHR) and the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control were approved within the aegis of World Health Assemblies – with the former instrument entering into force automatically after eighteen months for all WHO Member States, whereas the latter required separate national procedures of ratification. So far, the World Health Assembly has taken place in an uninterrupted fashion since 1948. As expected, this year´s meeting was centered on…

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COVID-19, Consent and Coercion: New United Nations Guidance on Less Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement in the context of the coronavirus

Thirty years have elapsed since the United Nations Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials (Basic Principles) were first adopted. Yet, as UN Human Rights Experts express concern about police killings and violence in the context of COVID-19 emergency measures, and law enforcement officials  around the world are reported to…

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Oxford Statement on the International Law Protections Against Cyber Operations Targeting the Health Care Sector

Many have recently written about the application of international law in cyberspace and to the global COVID-19 pandemic, but relatively few have examined the intersection between these two areas. Notwithstanding that oversight, recent weeks have seen cyberattacks on organizations at the frontline of the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, including malicious cyber operations against the World Health…

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A Reference to the ICJ for an Advisory Opinion over COVID-19 Pandemic

Much has been said about the ICJ’s contentious jurisdiction in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, stressing in this respect the problem of the State’s acceptance of jurisdiction and establishing the existence of a dispute (see e.g. here, here, here , here and listen). However, while the focus has been on the Court’s…

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Do We Need an International Commission of Inquiry for COVID-19? Part II

In Part I, I discussed what type of mandate an international commission of inquiry for COVID-19 might cover and who could establish such a body. Part II considers who might serve on a commission, how its work might be organised, and whether states could be persuaded to co-operate in good faith. What should the composition of…

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