UN agencies launch database of laws to help COVID-19 response
United Nations (UN) agencies launched on Wednesday a database of laws that countries had implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic to help protect the health and well-being of individuals and communities.
The COVID-19 Law Lab initiative gathers and shares legal documents from over 190 countries across the world to help them establish and implement strong legal frameworks to manage the pandemic, according to a statement issued by the World Health Organization (WHO).
The database includes state of emergency declarations, quarantine measures, disease surveillance, legal measures relating to mask-wearing, social distancing, and access to medication and vaccines. It will continue to grow as more countries and themes are added.
The WHO said the initiative will also feature research on different legal frameworks for COVID-19, with the focus on human rights impacts of public health laws, which will help countries identify best practices to guide their immediate responses to COVID-19 and socioeconomic recovery efforts.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen a vast increase in urgent legislative action to control and reduce it. "Strong legal frameworks are critical for national COVID-19 responses," said WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. "As health is global, legal frameworks should be aligned with international commitments to respond to current and emerging public health risks. A strong foundation of law for health is more important now than ever before."
"The COVID-19 Law Lab is an important tool for sharing good practices on laws and policies," said United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Administrator Achim Steiner, as "laws and policies that are grounded in science, evidence and human rights can enable people to access health services, protect themselves from COVID-19 and live free from stigma, discrimination and violence."