Can China Be Held Liable For Covid 19 Pandemic, By- Arvind Panda

Due to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, that has drastically affected the whole world and brought in a new type of lifestyle that involves social distancing, declining economies, country lockdowns, etc., the need for examining China’s liability in handling the pandemic has become unavoidable. Researchers and other investigative sources have discovered that the virus emerged from China, either from an animal market in Wuhan or from a laboratory that conducts studies related to bats in the same city. An even more shocking fact is that the country hid important information relating to the virus, which resulted in a delay in response from the World Health Organisation and other countries, eventually leading to a major outbreak and massive loss of life. The emergence of the virus within China and the Chinese government’s failure to rapidly and transparently provide necessary information raises questions on the civil and criminal liability of the Chinese government and its officials under international law. According to experts, while China violated several international treaties and statutes, there are mainly two international statutes that shall govern the liability of China, namely, the International Health Regulations and the due diligence principles. The laws include several rules and regulations under which China can be held liable for its acts. However, the main difficulty in the task of responsibility and accountability to China arises in terms of jurisdiction. To hold China liable, states will need to approach the International Court of Justice and prove adequate jurisdiction.

After studying research from various resources, it can be fairly concluded that the current outbreak of coronavirus is a direct result of the negligence of China. The country gradually altered with information related to the virus, which could have saved millions of  lives and millions of dollars. The negligence has resulted in the dropping of the Gross Domestic Product of various countries, India being the most significant victim, with a reported 23.9% contraction in the economy. Researchers from various countries have estimated that China should be liable for a compensation up to $6 trillion to those who suffered losses.

China can be held accountable under various treaties, statutes, and principles. Countries can also choose to resort to other lawful countermeasures as already described in the article. The International Health Regulations and the Due Diligence principles form the most important basis of this hypothesis. However, the countries challenging China will face hypercritical difficulties in proving sufficient jurisdiction at the International Court of Justice. Even if jurisdiction is sufficiently proven under international law, a country might be legally responsible or liable and yet the international community might not have sufficient resources and ability to impose the legal consequences of the act on the country. Therefore, there is no assurance that China would comply with the order of international bodies. If the international community fails to impose sufficient liability and accountability on China for its attempts to cover up the disease’s seriousness, or worse yet, if the country ends up receiving a commendation for its actions- then no country will ever acknowledge its mistakes in case an epidemic or pandemic breaks out. The resultant damage could also lead to the usage of epidemics and pandemics by various countries to improve their position on a global level.

BY- ARVIND PANDA

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