Pandemic and challenges to international law
Panel formed with individual proposals.
The Covid-19 global pandemic has been compared to a “misinfodemic“, which gave a new momentum to national regulatory debates calling for the prohibition of the spreading of “fake news“. Already, several jurisdictions have adopted laws addressing the dissemination of fake news and there also exist a few older international law instruments addressing the potentially negative consequences attached to various forms of misinformation. However, a constructive debate about the possible regulation of fake news at the global level is absent as is a concerted action to end the pandemic. For this reason, the paper first presents the existing fragmented regulatory framework at the international level and then, based on a review of various sources of information about the COVID-19 pandemic from science, news, and works of fiction, critically presents the difficulties for the law to establish the truth or falsity of information exclusively based on a binary mode of thinking.
The COVID-19 pandemic has drawn public attention to the adverse human rights impacts of unstainable business practices in global value chains linked to the European market. In the garment sector, major retailers in Europe have offloaded their costs incurred through the pandemic-related breakdown of consumer markets to supplier factories in the Global South. These costs are ultimately born by workers in garment-producing countries, who are either driven from employment into poverty or continue to work while being exposed to health risks deemed unacceptable in most parts of the Global North. The article traces the adverse human rights impacts of retailers‘ responses to the COVID-19 pandemic to long-standing issues in the garment supply chain. It gauges the contributions States and business enterprises in Europe could make to addressing these impacts in the light of the ongoing implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs) and sustainability rules.
The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted many embedded, racialized biases of international order. This pandemic has affected our perception of normality, destabilized our cognitive mapping of social order. The tectonic forces it unleashed have brought to the forefront various anti-elitist movements, the BLM being the most vivid example. These movements are becoming mainstream in politics, both internal and international, notwithstanding their appeal to a radical rupture with the past, bulk rejection of normativity, and prevailing social order and its inequities. Why and how the normalcy and normativity disruption could reshape international organization and international order? The paper proposes to look at these dynamics via lenses of epistemic communities underpinning the current international order. The paper argues that these dynamics are within the logics of cognitive and social transformations caused by the post-truth condition and accelerated by the pandemic‘s impact.
Should a company enter into an agreement with a foreign state when its own human rights due diligence suggest that the engagement would simultaneously advance human rights and constitute complicity in the breach of human rights by the client government? That is the question examined in this essay. Using the example of an element of Rwanda‘s response to the challenge of the COVID pandemic by leasing the use of surveillance drones, the essay considers how the human rights duties of states are both entangled and collide with the corporate responsibility to respect human rights. In the process the essay examines the relevance of emerging understanding of complicity first as a domestic and international legal norm and societal principle, second as a privatized human rights principle. Lastly it suggests that the resulting regulatory dead spaces may not be filled by the mechanisms of traditional international law but by delegated private law compliance responsibilities.
The aim of the paper is to analyze the impact that the pandemic had on the practice of the States about the proclamation of a State of emergency and their related obligations arising from the main human rights treaties in this regard. In particular it will be examined how far such a situation may be used to invoke a derogation clause, such as those contained in Art. 15 of the European Human Rights Convention, Article 4 of the International Covenant on civil and political rights, Article 27 of the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights or Art. 4 of the Arab Charter of Human Rights. The study will be based on the practice of the last year as regards different States from different continents and so bound by different regional human rights treaties, also to verify whether there was a similar approach in using the relevant derogation clause.
Based on a comparative survey, the paper aims to outline the role soft law has played in the overall regulatory strategies implemented by European countries to counter the Covid-19 crisis (the soft law atlas), and to draw more general conclusions with regard to some key topics: how soft law tools interact and complement one another including on different levels of government (the soft law web), how soft law tools interact and complement the sources of the law (the interplay between soft and hard law), and the positive and negative impacts on individuals, governance and policy making during the pandemic and beyond (the soft law bright and dark sides).