Introducing Roojin Habibi

The 2005 International Health Regulations (IHR) governs the world’s response to infectious diseases. Like most international treaties, implementation of the IHR must be consistent with prevailing rules of international law, including the norms of international human rights law. Although the collective right to public health may sometimes warrant the curtailment of certain individual rights, justifications for such restrictions are circumscribed by a robust set of criteria most potently expressed by the non-binding but widely cited Siracusa Principles on the Limitations and Derogations Provisions in the International Covenant for Civil and Political Rights (Siracusa Principles). The Siracusa Principles were adopted in 1984 against the backdrop of a world besieged by ‘epidemics’ of political unrest and the Cold War. In our interdependent era, threats to stability, peace and security emanate increasingly from global phenomena that are either too small to see, such as emerging infectious diseases, or too diffuse to fathom, such as climate change. When they strike, these global hazards not only expose the world’s languishing momentum towards realizing the “larger freedom” etched in the preamble of the Charter of the United Nations – they also threaten to unravel modest but hard-earned progress that has inched us closer to a global community where no one is left behind. More acutely than any crisis in recent history, the COVID-19 pandemic lays bare the need for close kinship between international human rights...

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