Preventing or managing a global pandemic such as COVID-19 requires states to strictly comply with the World Health Organization's International Health Regulations 2005 (IHRs). However, like many multilateral environment agreements, the IHRs lack a strong dispute resolution mechanism to enhance state compliance. To bridge that gap, states have incorporated several environmental conventions into free trade agreements (FTAs) over the past fifteen years.
After the first cases of what would later be named "COVID-19" were notified by China on December 31, 2019, the European Union (EU) reported its three first detected cases on January 24, 2020. As of April 18, 785,229 detected cases and 78,576 deaths had been reported by the 27 EU member states, while the total number of detected cases and deaths reported worldwide were 2,197,593 and 153,090 respectively.
As of April 18, 2020, Covid-19, designated as a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO), infected more than 2 million persons. This dramatic increase in the number of cases since the first reported case on December 31, 2019, sparked a range of responses from various public and private actors.
Over time, natural calamities and armed conflicts have demonstrated that human rights are often the first casualties of a crisis.
COVID-19 has disrupted the world as we know it with the declaration of national disaster, imposition of strict quarantines, and economic disruptions. In order to provide some context for the role of international law in public health emergencies, this Insight provides brief history of how the international community has created institutional governance to respond to global health pandemics.