But the question that needs a serious thought is this: Can China be found guilty for its alleged negligence and possible under-reporting of COVID-19, and for allegedly hiding crucial information about its transmission? If yes, where?
On 15 June 2007, the International Health Regulations, 2005 (IHR) came into effect, of which China is a signatory.
The IHR guidelines place obligations on nation States to provide adequate information to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to prevent the spread of pandemics. It is alleged that China failed under its obligations in this regard. In fact not only did China downplay the seriousness of COVID-19 till as late as February 2020 (the virus began infecting people around early December 2019), it seems to have hidden vital information until January 2020 by stating that the virus does not spread from ‘human-to-human’ contact, a myth that has since been busted by medical practitioners the world over.
Can China be sued on an international level?
Yes. On an international level, States could sue the People’s Republic of China at the International Court of Justice (ICJ) and/ or other international forums for violations. From the information presently available as to Chinese response from the time of the novel coronavirus being detected in Wuhan to the actual spread of it globally, it appears that a prima-facie case has been made out for China to be held liable for its alleged inactions in containing the spread of the virus. States could argue that China gave precedence to economic gains rather than do things on a war footing, which could have possibly helped contain the virus to its shores alone, and not become a pandemic that we are witnessing today.
Suing China in local courts across the world:
The second aspect of the question arises from the point of view of individuals. Those who have suffered losses –whether that of loved ones, or quite possibly financial loss — could possibly take the lead.
At some point, Beijing needs to be held financially accountable for the worldwide havoc, misery, and death caused by the Chinese virus.
Categories: Wuhan Coronavirus