On March 24, 2020, the Journal of Law and the Biosciences, jointly run by Duke University, Harvard University Law School, and Stanford University, put out a call for essays and articles on governance in a time of pandemic. Between April 22 and May 28, it published 25 articles, all of which are available at the Journal’s website free of charge. We expect that more than 20 additional pieces will join them over the next month or so. The following is a regularly updated list, organized by date and time of publication, of what has been published in that special issue to date.
By Woosung Hwang
South Korea has been hailed for its swift and thorough response to the COVID-19 pandemic. But the response has come at a cost, affecting the privacy and rights of the country’s citizens.
South Korea had its first confirmed case of COVID-19 on January 20th, 2020. As of June 8th, 2020, South Korea has 11,814 cases, and 273 fatalities.
Despite a troubling history, rofecoxib (Vioxx) may be making a comeback.
The voluntary withdrawal of rofecoxib (Vioxx) from the market in September 2004 marked the end of a controversial era for a once highly profitable and widely used drug. It also marked the beginning of years of high-profile product-liability litigation that would cost Merck billions.
To limit the spread of the novel coronavirus, the Nigerian government took restrictive containment measures, with the effect of curtailing fundamental rights. These included lockdowns of various states and a cessation of social and economic activity, except those activities relating to essential services. While these measures followed existing public health advisories, they have raised significant legal, constitutional, human rights, and legitimacy issues.
Between enabling and suffocating legal measures
Tensions between welfarisms that enable and those that suffocate are evident in Ireland’s move to restrict the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, and in the reaction to it.
Two pieces of emergency legislation passed through Oireachtas Eireann (the Irish Parliament) by March 26th. The Health (Preservation and Protection and other Emergency Measures in the Public Interest) Act 2020 and the Emergency Measures in the Public Interest Act 2020 address a range of social, civil and economic issues. Read More
By Eduardo Dargent and Camila Gianella
Peru was among the first Latin American countries to implement legal measures that restrict civil rights in order to stem the spread of COVID-19.
On March 15, with 28 confirmed cases and no deaths, the government issued the Supreme Decree N° 044-2020-PCM declaring a state of emergency for 15 days. Measures in the decree included closing the borders, ordering a general lockdown, forbidding domestic travel, and closing schools, universities, churches, and all non-essential businesses, among others.
Read an update to this post published April 13, 2021: “One Year Later: COVID-19, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law in South Africa”
By Mark Heywood
South Africa’s first case of COVID-19 was confirmed on March 5th, 2020. Ten days later, on March 15th, 2020, the government utilized the Disaster Management Act (2002) to declare a State of National Disaster. Under this Act, the government set up a National Command Council (NCC) made up of Cabinet Ministers and restricted certain rights necessary to prevent SARS-Cov-2 transmission and “flatten the curve.”
A national lockdown started on March 27th. It was relaxed slightly (to level 4) on May 1st, and was further relaxed (to level 3) on June 1st. The lockdown severely restricted freedom of movement, closed all but essential companies and schools, banned the sale of alcohol and tobacco, and introduced a night-time curfew between 8pm and 5am. By May 22nd, the Minister of Police reported that 230,000 people had been arrested for violating lock-down regulations.
The most affected constitutionally recognized rights are freedom of movement, assembly, and trade. However, on paper at least, care has been taken to ensure that political rights and rights to freedom of expression and association are not limited, and the President has couched the country’s response in terms of the Constitution, particularly the rights to life, dignity and access to health care services. He has also frequently referred to the right to equality and promised that in the post COVID-19 period South Africa will do much more to tackle the inequalities that have been exposed by the coronavirus.
Our latest digital symposium, Global Responses to COVID-19: Rights, Democracy, and the Law, presents a snapshot of the spectrum of rights-related measures adopted in response to the pandemic in dozens of countries to date.
Given the international focus of the symposium, we opted not to solicit a submission representing the situation in the United States. However, the Bill of Health blog has published numerous relevant posts on different dimensions of legal and policy responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States.
The selections below, which we will continually update, offer an array of perspectives on how the U.S. response to the pandemic has affected rights, democracy, and the rule of law.