“A human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis”. UN Secretary General António Guterres was among the first to raise the alarm about possible human rights implications of government measures to fight COVID-19. Since its outbreak, 87 states – both authoritarian and established democracies – have declared a state of emergency to curb the spread of the virus, which implies certain derogations from international human rights conventions. Protecting the right to life and physical integrity are fundamental duties facing government authorities, commitments enshrined in law – specifically Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) and Article 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). Derogations from human rights conventions are permissible under certain circumstances, but any limitation must be motivated by absolute necessity, must not be disproportionate and must be limited in time.
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