Is the country of origin of Covid-19 pandemic held responsible under international law?

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Papawadee Tanodomdej


COVID-19 pandemic causes a significant number of deaths globally and the economic impact to many states. The question is raised whether the country of origin of COVID-19 who failed to prevent the spread of the pandemic is held responsible under both domestic and international law. Under the latter, all WHO parties are required to inform WHO the accurate detail of public health information within 24 hours of its assessment. The failure to comply with this obligation constitutes an internationally wrongful act under rules of state responsibility. However, the commission of internationally wrongful act does not always give rise for the affected state to be indemnified by financial means. The amount of the damages is calculated based on the causation between the internationally wrongful act and its effects. If the causal chain is not fully established, the International Court of Justice may deny declaring the damages. It, rather, renders the declaratory remedy to the affected state. The provocation of responsibility of state under domestic court is shielded by the state immunity. Although the US law provides certain exceptions allowing individuals to sue foreign states under the state and federal courts, the possibility to win the case significantly relies upon the judges’ discretion on whether the territorial nexus can be established in the case.

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