States’ Resilience to Future Health Emergencies: Connecting the Dots between Core Obligations and Core Capacities

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Covid-19 has put a spotlight on the responsibilities of States under the International Health Regulations and on State accountability in case of a breach.[1] In addition, there has been much debate about how measures to protect against Covid-19 infringe on the enjoyment of civil and political rights, in particular rights to privacy and freedom of movement.[2] It will be important to evaluate these matters carefully given the current crisis.

While these approaches and dimensions are valuable, we should also look beyond this crisis and address country preparedness to future infectious disease outbreaks. To this end, this Reflection assesses how according to international law, all countries around the world are required to be prepared to respond to a future public health emergency. It does so from the perspective of the right to health as an economic and social right, in interaction with the International Health Regulations (IHR). This contribution is grounded in the understanding that Covid-19 reflects, in essence, a crisis of the right to health: because countries do not deliver the right to health as reflected by the IHR, many other problems including violations of international law arise.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages9
JournalESIL Reflections
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 11-Jun-2020


  • Core capacities
  • core obligations
  • International Health Regulations
  • States'resilience
  • health emergencies

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