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  • Writer's pictureThe Society For Constitutional Law Discussion

Global Constitutionalism Amidst Global Pandemic

Updated: Dec 13, 2023

Authored by Greeshma, a student of Gitam School of Law, Visakhapatnam.

Over the past few months, all the countries around the globe have struggled to handle the ongoing pandemic. It is the re-emergence of deadly infectious diseases the “COVID- 19” that has shattered the world medical community’s belief that they have successfully eradicated most of the dreadful infectious diseases through global vaccination campaigns. Though many other deadly infectious diseases like HIV/AIDS, SARS, Ebola, and Zika have surfaced and demonstrated how dangerous these infectious diseases can be, it was COVID-19 that provoked the thought about human security. The diseases that have surfaced arose mostly in developing nations and spread their wings all over the globe. By standing at the crest of the globalisation process, the globe has roused a common interest, which is to protect the health of the human race. For the first time, the UN, according to Article 39, has classified infectious diseases as a threat to public peace and security. This classification was made under the UN resolution 2177 adopted during the Ebola outbreak.

The present COVID crises have offered a new hotspot on the prospects of global constitutionalism. It is of paramount significance that we rethink global constitutionalism, as human health is no longer limited to individuals or states concerned. Bioterrorism is a threat that is posed to all the nations with the rapid increase in globalization, it is no longer feasible to restrict the moment of people through the international borders. The classic concept of security referring to boundaries does not stand intact anymore; the inclusion of the newer concept of human security is inevitable.

The foundation of security beyond the traditional concept was laid earlier by the Copenhagen school stated that defense of territory by a foreign state shall also include the societal, economic, political, and environmental dimensions as well. The concept of human security was later elaborated by Robert Ullman in his paper ‘Redefining security’ which was formally accepted by the UN as a human development report which became an essential part of the securitization process. The 2177 resolution stated that the health pandemics are no longer to be considered as humanitarian crises/issues but exclusively as a channel that promotes developing cooperation through human rights law. One of the major turning points of the concept of human security is the UN high panel on threats, challenges, and changes report, 2004. It also highlighted the new security threats like civil wars, bio-terrorism, and international terrorism.

So, is this pandemic calling an end to globalization?

This question has been in debate since the raise of COVID cases and ongoing restrictions internationally. If globalization is only referred to in terms of economy, then this pandemic has almost ended globalization. This scenario has sparked the withdrawal of economic contracts with the parent state of COVID- 19. Thus, COVID- 19 has possibly marked a new era where globalization shall be more crucial than ever. This will guarantee that countries adopt new approaches and measures while looking at international laws and global governance. It shows how fast an event in one corner of the world can affect every nook and corner of the globe. The lives of people all over have been affected very extremely in all aspects.

According to David P Fidler’s theory about ‘Responsibility to practice public health’, it is pointed out how stressed individual states are regarding their ability to handle threats as to their population’s health, especially in the area of infectious diseases with increasing globalization and other developments. At the same time the responsibility to practice public health, pierce’s the Westphalian veil of sovereignty insisting on the need for the international community to organize itself to collar the globalization of public health governance in an effective manner. As stated in this theory, in presence of epidemics when the harsh hit countries are not able to answer the need of protecting their citizen’s right to health in a competent method, thereupon the only capable institution to provide an answer within the system would be its security council. As it bears the responsibility of holding the interests of the international community and even adapting the necessary safety measure.

COVID- 19 has brought light to how prepared we are when crises arise, governments all around the globe are taking measures such as borders closures, and derogating human rights in the form of moral policing will not make people feel safe. It's time global constitutionalism is taken into the full deal and the only solution would be sharing of information, global governance, and looking out for everyone so that no one is left behind. The medical field during these crises is open wide enough regards to sharing of information through relevant data, statistics, and other experiences. Not to forget states sharing medical equipment and other necessary pharmaceuticals. But, traditional governance on an international level has not been established yet.

This is a time where the entire human race is hard to hit, which explains why governments should swiftly shift their understanding of international law and global constitutionalism is the need of the hour. Global constitutionalism is the ultimate quick fix for all global concerns. If the diplomats act without global social consciousness, will lead to a failed system where there are still conflicts between the ideas and interests. Governments cannot forget the main interest resting on them.

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