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International human rights law – lessons in the era of COVID-19

McGaughey, F., Kenny, M.A.ORCID: 0000-0002-5352-7549, Maguire, A. and Harris Rimmer, S. (2022) International human rights law – lessons in the era of COVID-19. Australian Journal of Human Rights . pp. 1-22.

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The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the connections between law and public health into stark relief. The pandemic has demonstrated both the essential nature of global cooperation and international regulation to promote universal rights to life and health, and the potentially harmful impacts of limitations imposed on human rights in time of emergency. It has also tested the international human rights framework, which allows for permissible limitations on human rights where required, but which remains subject to widely varying domestic implementation. In this paper, we explore the relationship between international human rights law and the COVID-19 pandemic, including a focus on the rights of vulnerable individuals and communities who have experienced disproportionate impacts from both the pandemic itself and from measures that constrain the exercise of human rights. We propose that the inquiry and monitoring mechanisms of the UN human rights bodies provide important avenues for addressing the human rights implications of COVID-19 and Government responses to the pandemic. We also review Australia’s domestic implementation of international human rights law and its relevance in the era of COVID-19, noting the piecemeal approach to human rights protection under Australian law. We conclude that this time of emergency provides an opportunity for the progressive development of international human rights law, via principles of reciprocity, social protection, human rights preparedness and comprehensive normative protection for a right to public health.

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): Law and Criminology
Publisher: Taylor & Francis
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