Human Rights - the essential frame of reference in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Donald, Alice ORCID logoORCID: and Leach, Philip ORCID logoORCID: (2022) Human Rights - the essential frame of reference in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In: Routledge Handbook on Law and the COVID-19 pandemic. Grogan, Joelle ORCID logoORCID: and Donald, Alice ORCID logoORCID:, eds. Routledge Handbooks in Law . Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, pp. 101-116. ISBN 9781032078854. [Book Section] (Accepted/In press)


The COVID-19 pandemic underscored the indivisibility and interdependence of human rights, as states’ pre-existing failure to realise economic and social rights, especially the right to health, exacerbated the spread of the virus, in turn creating the conditions for authoritarian power grabs and severe incursions into rights of all kinds. This chapter argues that it is mistaken to conceive of COVID-19 – or future pandemics – principally as a threat whose eradication requires rights to be sacrificed. Nor do human rights hinder decisive action to contain disease. Rather, human rights standards and principles offer a means of transparently balancing competing priorities in the cauldron of decision-making during a health emergency. The chapter synthesises trends in states’ human rights performance during the pandemic and explains the wide-ranging nature of their obligations. It explores routes to accountability for governments’ actions and omissions and discusses the human rights dimension of access to vaccines, and ‘immunity certificates’. The chapter concludes by looking ahead to the application of human rights in the post-COVID-19 world and preparedness for future pandemics.

Item Type: Book Section
Research Areas: A. > School of Law > Law and Politics
Item ID: 34850
Useful Links:
Depositing User: Alice Donald
Date Deposited: 09 Mar 2022 16:27
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2022 16:49

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