Human Rights

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The Myth and Mayhem of ‘Build Back Better’: Human Rights Decision-Making and Human Dignity Imperatives in COVID-19

Human rights were already under siege everywhere around the world before COVID-19.  But there is also a dawning race now against reaching the ‘twilight of human rights law’, due to: 1) authoritarian regimes’ dismissal of the relevance of human rights while using this pandemic to expand and consolidate their power, such as to silence speech, quash dissent, dismantle media, or execute mass arrests, detentions, or shootings; 2) the growing prevalence of utilitarian reasoning that instrumentalizes human rights as just a set of ‘costs’ that can only be met by a privileged few; and 3) the resurgence of the age-old relativist attacks on ‘universal’ human rights, seeking to recast the latter as mere forms of ‘Western neo-imperialism’ against today’s new hegemonic powers such as China. The latter claims had long been debunked in Steve L.B. Jensen’s excellently researched historical and archival analysis rejecting the putative exclusivity or dominance of ‘Western’ authorship of international human rights instruments, stressing evidence of the crucial role in the 1960s of Asia, Africa,…

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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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Another One Bites the Dust: Côte d’Ivoire to End Individual and NGO Access to the African Court

On 29 April 2020, the government of Côte d’Ivoire issued a press statement announcing its decision to withdraw the right of individuals and NGOs to submit complaints directly to the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights (‘the Court’). This right was granted in 2013, when it deposited a special declaration with the Court in accordance…

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Will COVID-19 usher on another decade of austerity within the United Kingdom? What does this mean for the protection of economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR)?

A Brief Background As of April 28th 2020, there had been 21,678 COVID-19 related deaths within UK hospitals, bringing the scale of the UK pandemic on par with that of Italy, France, Spain and the US. The slow rate of decline has led to the government stating that lockdown will be imposed for an indefinite period…

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