Numerous governments have responded to the COVID-19 pandemic by declaring states of
emergency and restricting individual liberties protected by international law. However, many
more states have adopted emergency measures than have formally derogated from human rights
conventions. This discussion critically evaluates the existing system of human rights
treaty derogations. It analyzes the system’s problems, identifies recent developments that have
exacerbated these problems, and proposes a range of reforms in five areas—embeddedness,
engagement, information, timing, and scope.
Appearing: Richard Ong, Columbia Law School 2L, and Laurence Helfer, Harry R. Chadwick, Sr. Professor of Law at Duke Law
Hosted by Columbia Law School.