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Role of International Law

1. The role of International law in the context of the current Covid-19 situation highlights the suspension of people’s freedom and movement. At the same time, the restrictions have also been placed on the freedom of information along with closed schools, businesses, and certain places of worship for the sake of public safety. The modern-day International Human Rights is designed to protect the individuals from the governments who are abusing their powers.

However, many criticisms have been placed against China and under International Law, it had been held responsible. As per some of the studies, China instead of sharing the information transparent, it had misinterpreted and suppressed the data regarding the novel Corona strain. This is the reason, it becomes difficult for the World Health Organization as well as the foreign governments to get prepared for the calamitous infection[1]. It can be stated that China had gone against the rules and regulations of the World Health Assembly where according to Article 6 of the Regulations, every state or party need to notify WHO within 24 hours regarding any event that poses the risks regarding international public health emergency. Again according to Article 7, such parties need to share all the data concerned with the crisis with WHO continuingly. Again as per Article 11, WHO is required to share such important data. Once they get verified with the other countries, they can be able to enact certain precautionary measures. Together these provisions help in the development of a global disease surveillance system to ensure that the government of the particular region is not forced to face any kind of medical emergencies blindly. These are certain regulations which had not strictly followed by China.

From the historical findings, it can be argued by highlighting that during 2003, the existence of wet markets and wildlife trade within China was found to be responsible for the SARS outbreak which had killed around 800 people. After that, China had made certain efforts to protect its exotic meat industry according to Wildlife Protection Law. Again China’s proliferating trade in the exotic animals had enabled the COVID virus to jump to humans at a wet market in Wuhan which had ultimately affected the entire vast nation. The failure of China towards the regulation of the wet markets had enabled the global transmission of the deadly coronavirus.

Around six lawsuits have been filed against China in the U.S. for the injuries as well as the economic losses caused by it. Apart from all these legal suits, one cannot strongly state that China had intentionally committed wrongful Acts in the United States to spread Coronavirus. It can be stated that the political temptation had allowed lawsuits against China. The Chinese government gets protected by the doctrine of sovereign immunity[2]. Sovereign immunity cannot be defined as one of the favor courts to do for foreign regimes. It is an act of reciprocity, a peace of treaty which has been tested on the hared understanding not allowing the people to sue. In this context, according to Jurisdictional basis, China should be placed before the International Court of Justice with an established form of constitutional framework and dealing with matters like membership as well as institutional structure. According to Article 6 and 7 of Nomenclature Regulations, statistical and epidemiological reports against China needed to be provided based on which legal actions can be undertaken against China. However, after an in-depth analysis, it has been found that China had presented new epidemiological information that helps the researchers and the data scientists in other parts of the world to know the actual number of affected people in China and likewise could take the legal action and the procedures. The WHO committee stood strong and they also followed a mission that will help in providing sufficient information to the international community to understand the situation and the potential impacts.

2. The UN chief has highlighted certain ways through which COVID -19 can undermine global peace and the security is through the further erosion of trust in the public institutions. Global peace and security are getting affected through Covid-19 are through the creation of economic instability that might have devastating consequences for women as they made up the majority in the worst-affected sectors[3]. The pandemic had also raised conflict and had triggered numerous human rights challenges. In these hard times, when Governments focus on the pandemic , the terrorist groups could see this as a window of opportunity to strike. The other ways to indicate that global peace and security have got threatened which got reflected through the government action regarding imposing travel restrictions and had also closed buildings or borders and the trade between the countries. This is ultimately hampering the economic stability of the nations and this way the trade performance of every nation are getting degraded largely.

In the context of self-defense measures, each country should continue in implementing the National Action Plans which is based on the whole-of-society approach and also on the realistic approach through which the mortality rates can be subsequently reduced and this way the society, as well as economic activity, will resume back. As per the International Laws, there need to be effective co-ordination and planning involving multidisciplinary national co-ordination cell through the engagement of relevant ministries such as health foreign affairs, education, transport, finance, and travel[4]. The defense plans should involve capacity assessments and the risk analysis s that the high risk and the vulnerable populations can get easily identified. In this aspect, the collective defense is also important as per the International Legal standards where there will exist participatory community engagement interventions.

The State should be responsible enough in engaging and mobilizing the communities to limit the exposures and the two-way communication process should be encouraged along with transparency. On the contrary, misleading as well as ambiguous and false information’s should be stopped by maintaining social distancing and also restrictions of the vehicle movements. The self-defense against Covid-19 can only be successful only when a sufficient amount of testing kits for the patients will be available and along with that, the findings of suspected cases should be accurate so that the quarantine measures can be taken fast. Many patients might face breathing problems or other associated problems as a result of the pandemic[5]. In that case, to fight with the pandemic, the State should be adequately responsible for making proper availability of the medical equipment’s which will ultimately help the people in saving their lives.

Along with that, proper ventilation system along with Personal Protective Equipment needs to be well arranged to prevent explosive outbreaks of the pandemic.

The UN council involves putting the human rights at the heart of the UN actions where it had been underlined by the UN security cancel that their shared human conditions, as well as values, is one of the primary sources of unity, not division. The people should be provided with adequate hope and a proper vision of what the future can hold. The reconstruction of the relations between the people and the leader should be formulated well to fight together against the pandemic. Hence the UN Security Council should play a role in adapting measures of co-operation through which the spread of disease can get controlled domestically and across the borders[6]. The UNSC should be responsible for mobilizing peacekeeping forces at the disposal and delivering rapid testing kits along with the safety equipment and the respirators to strongly fight against the pandemic Covid-19. According to International Law Legislations, the solution to fight Covid-19 lies in the centralization of the state power along with providing free quarantine programs with minimal training. The members of the UNSC need to step out of their game and delivering a resolution that will ultimately provide a platform for the proper securitization and timely containment in the context of Covid-19.

3. Under International Human Rights Law, in most countries, governments have failed in upholding the right to freedom of expression which limited effective communication regarding the onset of the disease and undermined trust in the governmental actions. As per the International Human Rights Law, the legal obligations, the States are facing are the unemployment and the food insecurities. Along with this, the widespread closure of the schools had interrupted the education of more than 1 billion children[7]. According to UN International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), some of the legal obligations that have been faced by the individuals are restrictions like that of mandatory quarantines or the isolation of symptomatic people.

The travel bans and restrictions regarding the freedom of movement have also been faced by the states. In Wuhan, China, it has been found that one boy has died of cerebral palsy when his father was taken to be quarantined as no one was there to look after him. These are certain obligations which have been faced by the States. The people in the States have only been allowed to purchase the necessary items and should work from home. According to another Human Rights Treaty ICESCR, it has been found that both the patients and the healthcare system are very poorly equipped and also having fewer medical experts who are gone to look after this[8].

The other obligations as per International Human Rights Regulations faced by the States involve lack of information in the context of public health significances and also the confidential information regarding the patient’s health was also not protected enough. These are some of the legal obligations that have been faced by the States at the time of fighting with Covid-19. The Public Health Surveillance System was also not properly maintained to establish mechanisms for the organization and the operations. The legal obligation has also been faced by the States at the time of collecting relevant information to store and communicate it to the competent authorities. However for the betterment of the people, according to ICCPR and ICESCR, the adequate amount of education, as well as information accessibilities concerning the community problems, are some of the concerned areas to be looked into which have been avoided and hence these needs all the relevant safeguards under the International Law where the clear explanations will be there. To be considered “accessible”, these goods and services must be accessible to all, especially the most vulnerable or marginalized sections of the population; within safe physical reach for all sections of the population; and affordable for all. “Accessibility” also includes the accessibility of health-related information[9]. There are three rights at the frontline in the fight against Covid-19 are:

  • All the individuals are having the right to life and also have the duty to protect the life of others. This should be considered by the States in making extraordinary efforts and this should be the primary focus.
  • The right to health is also one of the primary conditions of Human Rights at Frontline where every human being is being entitled to enjoy a higher standard of living regardless of social as well as economic status.
  • However one of the challenging aspects which had been found through this is that women confined at home due to lock down with the abusers and is having at the higher risks of domestic violence and abuses[10].
  • In some of the countries, the health workers who are risking their lives in saving the lives of other people have often been attacked or bullied through which it can be said that the marginalized and the most vulnerable people in the society are getting affected those who failed to work from home.

Bibliography for Role of International Law

Americanbar, Its Impact on International Law and You (13th May 2020) COVID-19 <https://www.americanbar.org/groups/international_law/membership/coronavirus-information-page/>

Amnestyusa, RESPONSES TO COVID-19 AND STATES’ HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS: PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS (16th March 2020) Preventing People’s Exposure to Covid 19 <https://www.amnestyusa.org/press-releases/responses-to-covid-19-and-states-human-rights-obligations-preliminary-observations/>

Giles Clarke, COVID-19 threatening global peace and security, UN chief warns (10th April 2020) UN News https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/04/1061502

Cassandra Emons, International Human Rights Law and COVID-19 States of Emergency.  (25th April 2020) COVID-19 and States of Emergency https://verfassungsblog.de/international-human-rights-law-and-covid-19-states-of-emergency/

Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Dimensions of COVID-19 Response (17th March 2020) Protecting Rights , Saving Lives https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/19/human-rights-dimensions-covid-19-response

United Nations, COVID-19 and Human RightsWe are all in this together (20th April 2020) Human rights are critical for the response and the recovery https://www.un.org/victimsofterrorism/sites/www.un.org.victimsofterrorism/files/un_-_human_rights_and_covid_april_2020.pdf

World Health Organization, COVID‑19 STRATEGY UPDATE (14th April 2020) Overcoming Covid 19 https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/covid-strategy-update-14april2020.pdf

[1] Americanbar, Its Impact on International Law and You (13th May 2020) COVID-19 <https://www.americanbar.org/groups/international_law/membership/coronavirus-information-page/>

[2] Amnestyusa, RESPONSES TO COVID-19 AND STATES’ HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS: PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS (16th March 2020) Preventing People’s Exposure to Covid 19 <https://www.amnestyusa.org/press-releases/responses-to-covid-19-and-states-human-rights-obligations-preliminary-observations/>

[3] Americanbar, Its Impact on International Law and You (13th May 2020) COVID-19 <https://www.americanbar.org/groups/international_law/membership/coronavirus-information-page/>

[4] United Nations, COVID-19 and Human RightsWe are all in this together (20th April 2020) Human rights are critical for the response and the recovery https://www.un.org/victimsofterrorism/sites/www.un.org.victimsofterrorism/files/un_-_human_rights_and_covid_april_2020.pdf

[5] World Health Organization, COVID‑19 STRATEGY UPDATE (14th April 2020) Overcoming Covid 19 https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/covid-strategy-update-14april2020.pdf

[6] Cassandra Emons, International Human Rights Law and COVID-19 States of Emergency.  (25th April 2020) COVID-19 and States of Emergency https://verfassungsblog.de/international-human-rights-law-and-covid-19-states-of-emergency/

[7] Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Dimensions of COVID-19 Response (17th March 2020) Protecting Rights , Saving Lives https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/19/human-rights-dimensions-covid-19-response

[8] Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Dimensions of COVID-19 Response (17th March 2020) Protecting Rights , Saving Lives https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/19/human-rights-dimensions-covid-19-response

[9] Human Rights Watch, Human Rights Dimensions of COVID-19 Response (17th March 2020) Protecting Rights , Saving Lives https://www.hrw.org/news/2020/03/19/human-rights-dimensions-covid-19-response

[10] World Health Organization, COVID‑19 STRATEGY UPDATE (14th April 2020) Overcoming Covid 19 https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/covid-strategy-update-14april2020.pdf

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