Human Rights and Public Health Measures: the Legal Challenges of COVID-19

Keywords: human rights, protection measures, legal challenges, WHO, COVID-19


The article examines the interaction between human rights and public health measures in the face of new legal challenges caused by COVID-19. It is indicated that the legal reality is changing, human rights are limited, legal measures of a preventive nature are being taken in such conditions. It is underlined the importance of the national measures taken by the state to overcome the problem in order to protect public health. Therefore, comprehensive international and national safeguards are important for the latest global challenge. In connection with the COVID-19 pandemic, various countries have introduced a number of measures to protect the public health, as well as social measures, including keeping a safe distance, temporary suspending the work of educational institutions and enterprises, quarantine in different geographical areas and restrictions on movement. In accordance with the changes in the epidemiological picture at the local level, countries are making adjustments to the relevant measures. In Ukraine, in addition to constitutional norms and sectoral codified acts, there is the Law of Ukraine «On Protection of the Population from Infectious Diseases», which defines a set of measures authorized by public authorities to minimize the spread of a pandemic. Outbreaks identified for today have mainly occurred in clusters of patients who became infected as a result of close contact, in the family or at separate events characterized by crowds. Therefore, the restriction of the right to peaceful assembly, mass events is motivated and normatively justified. It is stated that the pandemic has caused a real threat to the realization of this right to persons of both school age and senior age, since all educational institutions of different levels received serious quarantine restrictions on the actual educational process. Statistics makes it possible to state that about 6 % of children are practically deprived of the opportunity to exercise the right to education. There is a discrepancy between the WHO recommendations, which do not recommend imposing any restrictions on travel or trade and the actions of nation states to close national borders for countries facing COVID-19 outbreaks. Contact tracking should be conducted in an appropriate manner so as not to interfere with the right to privacy.


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