Apart from being a public health emergency, the COVID-19 pandemic is also a global crisis of public law and human rights. Emergency measures introduced in many countries pose concerns from the perspective of constitutional and international law.
Under the state of emergency, governments have curtailed numerous fundamental rights. Since epistemic uncertainty makes it difficult to determine whether this is constitutionally warranted, we are witnessing a dispute over the nature and future of constitutional democracy.
Emergencies pose particular challenges to ethical research – yet research is essential for effective emergency response. Complementing human rights approaches, an ‘ethical compass’ of core values provides a basis to allocate responsibilities to a wide range of non-state duty-bearers.
Emergencies pose challenges to the holding of elections. States’ obligation to protect the life, health and security of their population stands in tension to their obligation to respect the right to political participation and related political freedoms. How do we reconcile these dimensions from a human rights perspective?