International Law: Covid-19
The globalize World which was already undergoing an economic decline of
approximately 3 to 2.4 per cent suffered a jolt when the horrific pandemic COVID
19 caused mayhem of catastrophic proportions. This unexpected biological
disaster sealed the boundaries and distorted the supply chain by restricting the
sale of non-necessary items, ban on travel, import, export, production of luxury
The visible economic crises include the oil price crash, gold price hike, supply
shock, reallocation of resources by putting all the resources in the production
of the health-related necessities, like turning the train into a quarantine
centre, etc. Predicting and calculating the loss would highly depend upon the
period of the outbreak and policies made. The expected economic recession is
even more than the World War- II and the Global financial crises of the year
The spread of the virus started from Wuhan, China in November and was reported
to WHO on 31st December 2019. The Incident Management Support Team was sent to
China to study the virus and its impacts. On 5 January 2020, WHO published the
first news on the outbreak of the disease. Over two months, the virus spread
through various countries affecting a number of people and was eventually
declared a Pandemic by the World Health Organisation on 11 March 2020.
The outbreak of Coronavirus in the State of Wuhan of China has no guaranteed
medical treatment so far, the principle of herd immunity failed and the only
solution to slow down the spread of this virus is social distancing which leads
to countrywide lockdown around the globe. The extent of lockdown went to shut
down the schools, colleges, offices, etc. allowing only the necessary services
like supply of food items.
The crisis can be compared with the past experiences of the nation like the
Spanish flu in the year 1918-1919 resulting in20-50 million deaths, the Asian
flu of the year 1957-58, and the Hong Kong flu in 1968 resulting in 1- 4 million
The scholars believed that the outbreak of this virus around the globe is due to
China's incomplete information provided to the World Health Organisation and the
nation's failure to take all the necessary preventive measures to stop the
spread of the said virus.
The claim made that China violated the International Health regulations and
China should be sued for such damages caused to the world. The various nations
part of the International treaties are legally bound by the clauses and articles
of various agreements and conventions. China has violated the principles of
International law related to health policies like the Constitution of the World
In the year of 1969, the World Health Assembly adopted the International Health
Regulations to control the spread of various infectious diseases. That was
revised in the year 2005 to take preventive measures for more such infectious
disease. These regulations are legally binding to 194 member states. They make
it obligatory for a country to communicate any disease which is communicable and
take the necessary steps to prevent the disease from its spread. It includes the
sanction within the nation or outside the boundary of the nation.
China is alleged with the charges of violation of sections 6 and 7 of Part II
which makes it obligatory to inform the WHO regarding the disease and its spread
as soon as it came into the notice of the country in the prescribed manner by
The observed data indicates that China has violated the principles by hiding the
spread of the virus and the delay in informing about the virus, which was made
to secure the economic position of China as it is the first country in the list
of merchandise export countries.
The Constitution of the World Health Organization ensures the highest possible
level of Health by achieving complete cooperation among nations to protect the
health of all and fulfilling the provisions to adequate health and social
measures. The WHO Constitution makes it obligatory to the member states to
communicate promptly about the important laws and regulations. Official reports
and statistics planning to the health of the concerned state and provide the
The same is given under Article 6 of the Regulations regarding nomenclature,
which is violated by China as it failed to communicate to the organization on
time and the delay resulted in the loss of life and property around the globe.
The initial report provided by China stated that the virus is not spreading
through human to human transmission, which turned out to be false report as
human to human transmission resulted in a dangerous situation.
China is being alleged with the violation of various international laws and the
matter has been taken to the International Court of Justice to provide for the
damages and the destruction caused to the Nations. The allegations are also made
against the WHO that is performed under the influence of China and failed to
provide proper measures. The Health Assembly could have taken some strict
actions as empowered under Article 21, 22 and 37 of the Constitution.
The allegations made are based on presumptions and some information received,
which cannot be completely reliable to establish the guilt but these documents
do make it necessary for the International Court of Justice to consider the
matter and refer the situation. The countries facing huge economic loss should
be awarded compensation by following the due procedure of law.
The Countries are bound to perform the obligations made under treaty through
Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties and under Chapter XV
of the WHO constitution etc. China made responsible under the Responsibility of
States for Intentionally Wrongful Acts, 2001 which provides the regulations for
the act committed by the State with the mala fide intention and provides the
ways to improve the situation as per the international laws. The International
Court of Justice held thatno state may “knowingly allow its territory to be
used for acts contrary to the rights of other states.”which makes it clear
that once the mala fide intention (as contended by other nations) of China is
proved that will make it obligatory to pay the damages.
The biological weapon Convention of the United Nations is an agreement among
nations to give an annual report of all the research activities and centres to
protect the world from any biological destruction. The Second Review Conference
(1986) agreed on some Confidence-building measures to anticipate damages caused
by biological destructions. The third review conference, further revised and
implemented such laws and regulations as a legal obligation.All these
conventions and treaties follow the path of mutual collaboration among nations
to obtain collective growth.
The U.S. made several allegations against China and called it “Chinese virus”
and tried to establish that the virus is purposely prepared in the laboratory of
Wuhan. U.S alleged the WHO that it failed to perform its duty and as a result,
the U.S stopped funding the WHO. Apart from the U.S., Italy is highly affected
by the spread of the virus and the economy of Italy is collapsing as most of it
was dependent upon Tourism which is at the least priority of the Nations.
Hence, Italy by calling it a biological weapon of China demanding for war
After all the allegations made against China by various nations like the U.S.,
Italy etc., China has made an official statement stating that no violation has
been made by the nation. The virus was identified at a later stage as initially
the symptoms were general and the doctors could not think of the implication of
such a virus. After a few cases and medical reports, it was made clear that the
virus was spread by the consumption of bat but it was still not known that it
could be transmitted through Human connection.
China reported the virus as soon as it came to know about it. The information
about the virus which turned out to be false is not made with the mala fide
intention but happened because of the complex nature of the virus and the
identification of viruses due to its period of the asymptomatic patient.
The current situation is complicated as no vaccine has been made by the world
and the world is locked down. No allegation is established and the various
organizations are coming up with various reports and studies to find out the
actual outbreak of the virus. Also, various strategies are being prepared to
fight the virus and avoid the anticipated economic crises. The United Nations
Department of Economic and Social Affairs is monitoring the situation and making
relevant provisions for the betterment of the whole world.
Conclusively, China is being charged with the allegations of being responsible
for the loss incurred by the spread of Corona Virus under various provisions of
International Law and nothing has been proved or declared yet. The U.S also
demanded an investigation in China based on the reports which say that this
biological weapon was made to become hegemony and rule the world but it was
denied by China. Also, U. S's investigating agencies are stating various facts
to establish China's ill will whereas China claims about the virus is that it
has its origin in the U.S Army. The world is facing the biological war with
these political allegations to recover some loss.
The truth behind the allegations and biological destruction is yet to be
discovered but we can have the assurance of just and fair principles of
international laws while evaluating this incident of the outbreak. It is maybe
intentional or accidental but it is real and the world needs to fight with the
virus and save the life of the people. The purpose of all the conventions,
treaties, and statues is to safeguard life and property, which can be achieved
by collective efforts.
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