Emory International Law Review

EILR Recent DevelopmentsVolume 35

State Obligations Under Public International Law During Pandemics

Michaela S. Halpern | 35 Emory Int'l L. Rev. 1 (2020)

COVID-19 became an international pandemic affecting every country and threatening a global economic collapse. This Article examines countries' obligations under public international law to prevent and contain pandemics, and subsequent responsibilities to help other countries during pandemics. International Human Rights law recognizes a right to health and includes obligations. Nonetheless, it lacks a sufficient enforcement mechanism. Pandemics are analogous to war; therefore, the Responsibility to Protect (R2P) can help as countries utilize R2P to protect against atrocities. This Article argues that R2P is not merely a responsibility to protect against the worst that humankind has to offer but against the worst that can be offered to humankind.

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