Preventing Pandemics through the Rule of Law: Strengthening Countries’ Legal Preparedness for Public Health Emergencies
Public health emergencies (PHEs) require a prompt and effective response at all levels: local, national, regional and global. To support timely and effective action, countries must be prepared well in advance, including legally, to ensure that systems for preventing, managing and responding to PHEs are in place and well-functioning.
The rule of law provides guidance and tools to strengthen States’ legal preparedness for PHEs. Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, IDLO has supported low and middle-income countries to strengthen a rule of law-based response to public health emergencies. The issue brief, Preventing Pandemics through the Rule of Law: Strengthening Countries’ Legal Preparedness for Public Health Emergencies, elaborates on the key rule of law building blocks to guide countries to better prevent, prepare and respond to public health emergencies. They include effective legal frameworks for PHEs; functioning people-centred justice systems; legal protection for marginalized and vulnerable groups; multisectoral, whole-of-government and whole-of-society approaches to address PHEs; and sound national legal capacities.
The issue brief provides action-oriented recommendations for health and development practitioners, and policy-makers who are committed to strengthening national and global responses to public health crises. These recommendations stem from a rule of law approach to PHE preparedness and they aim to foster transparency and accountability in public health decision-making; eliminate arbitrariness in the application of emergency measures; enable improved access to justice; and provide a legitimate, effective, and agile framework for the application of public health measures in critical times.
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