GIMPA Law Faculty on COVID-19 and state responsibility towards citizens

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected life in a way that most people would have thought unimaginable a few months ago

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted life in a way that most people would have thought unimaginable quite recently.

The damaging impact of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and the corresponding measures that states have enacted implicate two important questions regarding the extent a state bears responsibility under international law for complicity in the outbreak of a pandemic. It also raises questions about the extent a state bears responsibility for internationally wrongful acts relative to the measures that it enacts to combat a pandemic such as COVID-19.

By examining the law of the World Health Organization (WHO), the law of state responsibility and other rules of international law and human rights, one may ascertain the liability or otherwise of states under international law for their actions or omissions relative to a pandemic such as COVID-19.

The potential liability of China as the origin of the pandemic, and of other states in how they respond to a pandemic disease on this scale, may also be seen through the lenses of international human rights law, international trade and investment law and other areas of international law.

On Wednesday 15 July 2020, Chris Nyinevi, a lecturer in the Faculty of Law of the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) delivered the 11th session of the GIMPA Law and Ethics web series via Zoom on the theme: “International Law, Human Rights and Diplomacy During Global Pandemics: State Responsibility in Perspective”.

The session was moderated by Maame Efua Addadzi-Koom, also a lecturer in the Faculty of Law at KNUST.

In sum, Chris Nyinevi observed that, although not impossible, it is extremely difficult to hold states liable for the outbreak of a pandemic such as COVID-19, or for failing to enact measures to prevent its spread.

Click on the link below to read the full policy statement from the GIMPA Law Faculty.

GIMPA Law and Ethics Policy Paper Volume 1, Issue 11 (1)

Wilberforce Asare


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