Groningen Journal of International Law

International Law Under Construction

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Locating Human Rights in the Heart of the New ‘International Pandemic Law’: A Reply to Steve Charnovitz

Dr I-Ju Chen

The COVID pandemic has caused significant and evolving challenges to every nation in the world since it occurred in December 2019. It has resulted in, for example, export prohibitions and restrictions in international trade, cross-border sharing of scientific data for global health efforts, and has affected human rights. These unprecedented disruptions have required countries to navigate solutions for the pandemic, and further revealed gaps and challenges in international law. In the Opinio Juris Symposium entitled ‘COVID-19 and International Law’ held in March 2020, Professor Philippe Sands, a leading international law scholar, pointed out that ‘the birth and transmission of the Sars-Cov-2 virus, and the COVID-19 illness it generates, and the response to it – are matters for international law’. Moreover, the 2005 International Health Regulations have been criticised for their ambiguity in the COVID pandemic, according to Armin von Bogdandy and Pedro A Villarreal’s research. The function of this governing regulation has generated many discussions on how to reform international health law. The COVID pandemic is thus a matter for international law, and rule-of-law responses for the pandemic under international law are necessary.

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