INTERNATIONAL/ ETHICS/ ESSAY
Topic: General Studies 2:
- Important International institutions, agencies and fora- their structure, mandate
- International Ethics
COVID-19: International Law cannot fall silent
In the wake of COVID-19 spreading from Wuhan, China to nearly 180 countries, there has been a debate raging on two fronts
- Need to strengthen the powers of State to handle the crisis effectively
- The projection of the crisis as an opportunity for building a new future for global politics marked by empathy, fraternity, justice, and rights.
UN is a site for discussion of norms and is responsible for the progressive codification of law. However, it has become playground for power politics.
Power Politics, UN and Pandemic
- US President Trump has called the Coronavirus as “Chinese virus”
- Pandemic was not discussed in UN Security Council during the month of March when the presidency of UNSC was held by China.
- Allegation on WHO about delay in declaring the disease as pandemic due to pressures from China
International Principles that Nations need to follow
- The peremptory jus cogens apply to all states – certain international norms like prevention of slavery, racial discrimination etc. hold true even during the fight against pandemic
- The erga omnes rules prescribe specifically-determined obligations which states owe to the international community as a whole. This was enunciated by the ICJ in 1970 for four situations
- Outlawing of acts of aggression
- Outlawing of genocide
- Protection from slavery
- Protection from racial discrimination
Three sets of international law obligations on States
- Draft Articles on the Prevention of Transboundary Harm (DAPTH)
- These are drafted by International Law Commission in 2001 to prevent transboundary harm arising out of country’s actions
- There are carefully developed norms of due diligence that can be adapted to contextual exigencies
- Each state is obliged to observe these standards in the fight against COVID-19 as a matter of international law.
- Human Rights Obligations: No law or policy to combat epidemics or pandemic can go against the rights of migrant workers, internally displaced peoples, and refugees and asylum seekers
- The Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) –
- This convention gains significance especially when there are conspiracy theories about the origins of COVID-19
- India has not subscribed to those theories and has instead called for high priority to full and effective implementation of the convention.
- Combating this fearsome pandemic calls for re-dedication to nested international law obligations and frameworks
Connecting the law:
- Article 51 of Indian Constitution
- International Court of Justice and International Criminal Court