States of Emergency and Disaster Responses to Covid-19 in Practice: Emerging Trends for SSG/R

The spread of the Covid-19 disease has forced many countries to adopt extraordinary legal measures aimed at addressing the pandemic and preventing its further spread. These measures vary from country to country but almost all of them have introduced strict limitations on the exercise of fundamental rights and sometimes have granted exceptional powers to security forces.

Most countries have responded to the Covid-19 crisis by declaring states of emergencies and assuming, in some instances, harsh powers to enforce measures ostensibly aimed at containing the spread of the virus. A minority of countries have opted for a disaster management approach. Overall, most of the measures have been largely supported by populations around the world but there is rising concern around their scope, legality, necessity and proportionality, as well as their impact on human rights and livelihoods.

ISSAT has conducted an Advisory Note, aiming to deepen its Governing Board Members’ understanding of States’ responses to Covid-19 in practice, through a series of case studies, reflecting emerging practices and trends.

Through a quantitative and qualitative analysis of 66 countries which have introduced one of the following measures: state of emergencydisaster management approachCovid-19 special legislation or other steps, the objective has been to assess whether one measure provides better practices than the others in terms of accountability and oversight mechanisms of the State security sector.

This note also examines whether one measure allowed stronger safeguards against potential slipping into stronger authoritarian political systems with longer-term impact on limiting the civilian space, curtailing political liberties and hindering community participation and inclusivity in decision-making. 

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Do not forget to check out our related Thematic in Practice Pages: 

Rule of Law Reform and States of Emergency

Security and Justice Reform Response to Covid-19 Crisis and

Disaster Risk Reduction, Preparedness and Relief & the Security Sector