Modest International Law: COVID-19, International Legal Responses, and Depoliticization
Forthcoming 114 (3) American Journal of International Law (2020)
18 Pages Posted: 3 Aug 2020
Date Written: June 30, 2020
In this essay, we analyze two sets of international legal responses to the COVID-19 pandemic: the academic discussion on state responsibility and the deployment of international law as a tool for resistance. We argue that both approaches made significant contributions but concealed the role of the discipline in the production of the conditions that led to the pandemic and its unequal impact. These interventions reflect a “modest international law”; an understanding of the discipline that hinders change and is ethically weak. We contend that repoliticization can help reclaim international law’s ambition and responsibility.
Keywords: Pandemic, COVID-19, state responsibility, human rights, democratic accountability, critical approaches to international law, international law and politics, institutional reconstruction
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