This article belongs to the debate » COVID 19 and States of Emergency
06 April 2020

Introduction & List of Country Reports

As states of emergency are declared throughout the world in response to the spread of COVID-19, concerns arise as to the use – and potential abuse – of power in a time of crisis. In this Symposium, comparative country reports examine the use of emergency powers from the perspective of democracy, human rights, and the rule of law.

This Symposium is hosted by Verfassungblog and Democracy Reporting International under the re:constitution program supported by Stiftung Mercator, and coordinated by Joelle Grogan.

Country Reports

Albania – Some Exceptional Extraordinary Measures

Argentina – Executive vs Legislative Branch

Australia’s State of Emergency

Austria: Rule of Law Lacking in Times of Crisis

Bangladesh’s Unofficial Emergency

Belarus – The State of Denial Amidst a Military Parade

Belgium – When a Health Crisis Replaces a Political Crisis

Botswana – Constitutionalism in a Time of Crisis

Brazil – Authoritarianism Without Emergency Powers

Bulgaria – An Excuse to Solidify Autocracy?

Cameroon – An Ordinary Legal Framework for an Extraordinary Situation

Canada the Good?

Chile – A Constitutional Authoritarian Temptation

China – Fighting Two Enemies

Colombia – A Problem and a Modest Proposal

Croatia – On Legal Form and Constitutional Safeguards in Times of Pandemic

Cyprus – A Tale of Two

Czechs and Balances

Denmark – Something is Forgotten in the State of Denmark

Ecuador – Constitutionalism and Covid-19

Egypt –Putting the Poison in the Honey

Estonia – State of Emergency

European Union – Testing the Limits of EU Health Emergency Power

Finland – Best Practice and Problems

France – From One State of Emergency to Another

Georgia’s Coronation of an Orwellian Doublethink

Germany – The German Struggle

Ghana – COVID-19, Constitutionalism and Emergencies

Greece – Coronavirus Crisis-Law

Guatemala – Challenges Beyond Public Health

Hong Kong – Fear of Unaccountability vs Fear of a Pandemic

Hungary’s Orbánistan

Iceland’s Rule of Common Sense …and Law

India’s Executive Emergency

Indonesia’s Battle Over the Meaning of Emergency

Iran – A Constitutional Analysis

Ireland’s Response to COVID-19

Israel’s Perfect Storm

Italy – Adjusting Along the Way

Japan’s Soft State of Emergency: Social Pressure Instead of Legal Penalty

Kenya – Excessive Law Enforcement

Latvia – Precaution Above All

Lithuania – Quarantine Through the Prism of Human Rights and the Rule of Law

Luxembourg – The Protection of Health Must Take Precedence

Malaysia and the Return of Rule by Law

Malta – Maltese Response: Slow at First but Steady and Effective

Mauritius – Rescuing Human Rights in Mauritius

Mexico – Emergency Powers

The Netherlands: Of Rollercoasters and Elephants

Nepal – An Ordinary Response?

New Zealand – Lockdown Bubbles

Nigeria – A Worthy Sacrifice for Public Health?

Norway’s Fight Against the Virus and the Rule of Law

Peru – Quarantine, State of Emergency, State of Enforcement, and the Pandemic

Philippines’ Dalliance with Authoritarianism

Poland – An Emergency By Any Other Name?

Portugal – Coping with COVID-19

Romania – Between Corona Crisis and Constitutional Crisis

Russia – With Scepter and Corona

Serbia – Saving the Nation or Securing the Re-Election?

Singapore’s Legislative Approach

Slovakia: Change of Government under COVID-19 Emergency

Slovenia – Business as Usual, but to the Unusual Extremes

South Africa – State of Disaster

Spain – Beyond the State of Alarm

Sweden and COVID 19: A Constitutional Perspective

Switzerland – Concentration of Powers in the Federal Executive

Taiwan’s Proactive Prevention

Thailand – Health Before Rights and Liberties

Turkey – Fighting COVID-19

Ukraine – Legal Pragmatism or Constitutional Outbreak?

United Kingdom – Right Restrictions or Restricting Rights

United States of America – A Nearly Failed State

Venezuela – States of Emergency without Rule of Law

Viet Nam – When Non-Emergency Measures Equal Emergency Measures


General Commentary on Democracy, Human Rights, and the Rule of Law

A “Marshall Plan” for Rule of Law in Europe

Dissecting Covid-19 Derogations

International Human Rights Law and COVID-19 States of Emergency

Human Rights – The Essential Frame of Reference in the Global Response to COVID-19

Democracy and the Global Emergency – Shared Experiences, Starkly Uneven Impacts

The Rule of Law Stress Test: EU Member States’ Responses to COVID-19

Impacts of COVID-19 – The Global Access to Justice Survey

States of Emergency


Post-Script to the COVID-19 and States of Emergency Symposium

A Note from the Convenor

The ‘COVID-19 and States of Emergency’ Symposium is jointly hosted by the Verfassungsblog and Democracy Reporting International under the re:constitution program supported by Stiftung Mercator.

From 6 April to 26 May 2020, the Symposium reported on states of emergency and measures taken in response to COVID-19 in 74 countries, analysing legal measures and the use of emergency powers which impact nearly 80% of global population. The country reports were accompanied by eight commentaries on democracy, human rights, and the rule of law in times of COVID-19.

The Symposium involved the work of over 100 contributors from across the world, who produced the highest quality reports despite working under pandemic conditions and with near-impossible editorial deadlines. Such a wide range of representation could not have been achieved without the invisible support of a network of academics, NGOs, human rights advocates, judges, and legal professionals who reached out to become involved, or connected us with in-country experts.

A great debt of thanks to our hosts: the Verfassungsblog and its Editor in Chief, Max Steinbeis; and to Michael Meyer-Resende and Jakub Jareczewski at Democracy Reporting International, the hosting of which could not have taken place without the generous support of Stiftung Mercator.

A final, and personal, thanks for the incredible work to my co-editors, Sinthiou Buszewski and Evin Dalkilic: I look forward to finally sharing that bottle of wine with you – in person.