As the coronavirus Covid-19 pandemic sweeps across the globe, executive branches of governments have been exercising public health emergency powers. While many of the extraordinary measures taken under the emergency power are essential to the containment of the virus, such power is subject to potential misuse. This Insight examines the human rights implications of exercising public health emergency powers in the particular context of asylum seekers waiting at a border.
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.