In a bid to help the Countries to establish and implement strong legal frameworks to manage the pandemic, the World Health Organisation launched the COVID-19 Law Lab.
The CoVID-19 Law Lab gathers and shares legal documents from over 190 countries across the world. The goal of the Law lab is to ensure that laws protect the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities and that they adhere to international human rights standards, the WHO said in a statement.
The law lab (www.COVIDLawLab.org) is a joint project of WHO, United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS and the O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law at Georgetown University.
WHO Director-General Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said that strong legal frameworks are critical for national COVID-19 responses. “Laws that impact health often fall outside the health sector. As health is global, legal frameworks should be aligned with international commitments to respond to current and emerging public health risks. A strong foundation of law for health is more important now than ever before,” he said.
Meanwhile UNDP Administrator Achim Steiner noted that laws and policies that are grounded in science, evidence and human rights can enable people to access health services, protect themselves from COVID-19 and live free from stigma, discrimination and violence.
UNAIDS Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said that harmful laws can exacerbate stigma and discrimination, infringe on people’s rights and undermine public health responses. “To ensure responses to the pandemic are effective, humane and sustainable, governments must use the law as a tool to uphold the human rights and dignity of people affected by COVID-19,” Byanyima said.
The COVID-19 Law Lab is a database of laws that countries have implemented in response to the pandemic. It includes state of emergency declarations, quarantine measures, disease surveillance, legal measures relating to mask-wearing, social distancing, and access to medication and vaccines. The database will continue to grow as more countries and themes are added.
It will also feature research on different legal frameworks for COVID-19. These analyses will focus on the human rights impacts of public health laws and help countries identify best practices to guide their immediate responses to COVID-19 and socioeconomic recovery efforts once the pandemic is under control. It builds off the work of the UHC Legal Solutions Network, which was established to help countries achieve universal health coverage through the implementation of rights-based legal frameworks.