COVID-19 Related State of Emergency Measures: Impact and Responses

The American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights (CHR) undertook this report 'COVID-19 Related State of Emergency Measures: Impact and Responses' to analyze the impact of COVID-19 emergency measures on HRDs and explore the responses of HRDs through the use of strategic litigation and other actions to push back against disproportional restrictions related to COVID-19 states of emergency. This report captures the successes and challenges of such strategies. It examines the viability of such approaches to effectively push back against attempts to normalize restrictive measures that do not meet public health goals and maintain civic space for HRDs and other civil society actors. The report finds that the success of challenges largely hinged on the nature of the authorizing statute and scope of its enforcement.   

"International law provides States with the ability to declare a state of emergency to respond to threats to public safety, health, or national security. Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) explicitly recognizes that, during officially declared public emergencies that threaten the life of the nation, States may derogate from some of their obligations under the ICCPR to the extent “strictly required by the exigencies of the situation.”

In its General Comment, the UN Human Rights Committee has set requirements for these states of emergency. In particular, it notes that States are under obligation to ensure that measures imposed under the declared state of emergency must be proportionate, timebound, temporary, and prescribed by law."


REPORT LAUNCH EVENT: recording below

On Tuesday, February 8, 2022, the American Bar Association (ABA) Center for Human Rights (CHR) hosted a Zoom Webinar for the launch of its report “COVID-19 Related State of Emergency Measures: Impact and Responses.”

The launch event examined the findings and recommendations of the report and focus on the impact of COVID-19-related state of emergency restrictive measures on the work of human rights defenders. Panelists discussed HRDs’ effective responses to push back against the normalization of over-reaching measures that go beyond the legitimate public health goals.

Moderator: Marti Flacks, Senior Fellow and Director, Human Rights Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)


  • Mary Lawlor, U.N. Special Rapporteur on the Situation of Human Rights Defenders
  • Apar Gupta, Executive Director, Internet Freedom Foundation 
  • Adrian Jjuuko, Executive Director, Human Rights Awareness and Promotion Forum 
  • Adilet Alimkulov, Executive Director, Kyrgyz Indigo 
  • Suhad Bishara, Legal Director, Adalah
  • Lana Baydas, Senior Program Manager, ABA Center for Human Rights
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