Welcome to International Law’s mid-term assignment on sources of international law.

Before you begin, please keep in mind that this assignment is on sources of international law, with pandemics and other emergencies merely serving as a background for the exercise.

Whenever additional research is needed to complete this assignment, it is limited to better understanding the instruments themselves, rather than the substantive norms they formulate.

Question 1 (30 points)

The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) was adopted in New York in 1966. It formulates core human rights, and provides in its Article 4 that “in time of public emergency which threatens the life of the nation and the existence of which is officially proclaimed, the States Parties to the present Covenant may take measures derogating from their obligations under the present Covenant to the extent strictly required by the exigencies of the situation, provided that such measures are not inconsistent with their other obligations under international law and do not involve discrimination solely on the ground of race, colour, sex, language, religion or social origin.”

Is the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights binding on the United States? Italy? China?

Explain why.

Question 2 (20 points)

Below is a transcript of a declaration made on March 23, 2020 by United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres. Does the UN Secretary General’s call for a global ceasefire produce legal effects?

Our world faces a common enemy: COVID-19.

The virus does not care about nationality or ethnicity, faction or faith. It attacks all, relentlessly.

Meanwhile, armed conflict rages on around the world.

The most vulnerable — women and children, people with disabilities, the marginalized and the displaced — pay the highest price.

They are also at the highest risk of suffering devastating losses from COVID-19. Let’s not forget that in war-ravaged countries, health systems have collapsed.

Health professionals, already few in number, have often been targeted. Refugees and others displaced by violent conflict are doubly vulnerable. The fury of the virus illustrates the folly of war.

That is why today, I am calling for an immediate global ceasefire in all corners of the world.

It is time to put armed conflict on lockdown and focus together on the true fight of our lives.

To warring parties, I say:

Pull back from hostilities.

Put aside mistrust and animosity.

Silence the guns; stop the artillery; end the airstrikes. This is crucial…

To help create corridors for life-saving aid. To open precious windows for diplomacy.

To bring hope to places among the most vulnerable to COVID-19.

Let us take inspiration from coalitions and dialogue slowly taking shape among rival parties in some parts to enable joint approaches to COVID-19. But we need much more.

End the sickness of war and fight the disease that is ravaging our world. It starts by stopping the fighting everywhere. Now.

That is what our human family needs, now more than ever.

Question 3 (30 points)

Article 11 of the International Law Commission’s Draft Articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters, adopted in 2016, provides as follows:

Draft Articles on the Protection of Persons in the Event of Disasters (2016)

Article 11 – Duty of the affected State to seek external assistance

To the extent that a disaster manifestly exceeds its national response capacity, the affected State has the duty to seek assistance from, as appropriate, other States, the United Nations, and other potential assisting actors.

Does the “duty of the affected state to seek external assistance” as formulated in the Draft Articles create mandatory obligations for states affected by COVID-19?

Question 4 (20 points)

Take a look at the International Health Regulations and discuss whether they constitute a treaty.

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