Heeding to Multilateralism and International Law Can Be Redemptive During COVID-19 Dilemma

By Adib Bazgir

The COVID-19 pandemic should be considered as a phenomenon that will damage countries in the international interdependence context. Simultaneously, the structure of the international system has placed a responsibility on China and international organizations and other countries to combat this transnational threat. In addition to controlling the issue at the national level, China seeks to pursue its foreign policy by taking a decisive approach that has been used from the start of the Xi Jinping administration to get achievements and move away from a peaceful and soothed politics. The country intends to transform its international image from a security and order-disrupting actor to an economic-security actor and a protestor to the existing international order, but who believes in its provisions. Therefore, it wants such events to have the least impact on international relations and that, above all, overcoming this crisis will benefit the country at the international level.

At the international level, given China’s position in the global economy and reliance of many other countries in this country, coronavirus is a crisis that requires international cooperation and convergence. Under the auspices of the United Nations and the World Health Organization, countries are trying to do their best to reduce the destructive effects of this phenomenon. Unlike Japan, which has attempted to resolve the crisis, the US approach has focused on chino phobia and misusing this crisis to compete with China and define itself as “good power.”  In contrast, states that advocate multilateralism, especially the United States allies in Europe, has taken a pragmatic approach to focus on their national interests and contribute to shade the international crisis away.

Moreover, states’ binding obligations in human rights documents are an extensive interpretation of human rights that require the exercise of all the powers and capabilities of the states. These obligations include providing the public with mental and physical health and are closely linked to the right to life, which necessitates paying attention to any event that endangers public health. Undoubtedly, travel and trade can be suspended temporarily and non-discriminatory by governments that fear public health damage. However, this should be by the provisions of the International Civil and Political Rights Treaty and subject to Art’s provisions. On the other hand, international health regulations, conditions expected to require governments to respect citizens’ right to health, can be analyzed and considered only from the perspective of soft rights, given that they are not binding. These regulations have not been binding on governments to restrict travel and trade for fear of coronavirus spread and not can oblige governments to do so by significant implementation guarantees. 

With that said, what strategies does international law provide to governments in the face of events such as the coronavirus that endanger public health? Undoubtedly, where the international community’s life is at stake, there is no difference between the governments of the North and the South. The coronavirus could be a threat to the citizens of developing countries, but it can also seriously endanger people’s health and life in developed countries. In such situations, adherence to governments’ moral obligations in the international community is more important than their legal obligations. Transparency in the presentation of scientific and evidential statistics on the virus’s prevalence provides the ground for citizens to trust the government. It leads to respect for the international community and public health worldwide.

Finally, it seems that the unparalleled “treasure of health” could be protected only through several things. First, governments’ attention to the interests of the international community, respect for the right to life enshrined in the International Bill of Human Rights. Second, the observance of the principle of good faith in international relations as the constructive principle of many contractual and non-contractual obligations. Third, comprehensive and complete interpretation of human rights in the system of the global human rights system. Forth, the increase in international cooperation. Fifth, respect for the principle of information in case of an emergency. And sixth, application of the principle of precaution and proper care in all biological topics.

Author’s Profile:  

Adib Bazgir is an Analyst who mostly focuses on research areas including American Studies, International Affairs, Global Security, and Diplomacy.


This article was submitted as a part of APYouthS’ Article Submission program. We are calling for enthusiastic and impassioned youths in Asia-Pacific who are willing to share their opinions on current situations of the world. Submit your article now through

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official stance of Asia-Pacific Youth Service.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *