Ministers of Justice discussed legal measures to prevent future pandemics

The measures to be introduced by countries for overcoming COVID-19 and the international strategy in the event of potential future crises were discussed at the Open Meeting of the Ministers of Justice "Public Administration and Legislation during Pandemic" under St. Petersburg International Legal Forum 91/2: The Rule of Corona.

Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation Konstantin Chuychenko noted that despite the differences in their functions and powers, Ministries of Justice of all countries are key legal advisers responsible for the development of legislation and the formation of international law. In the context of the pandemic, they should ensure the sustainability of traditional legal institutions and foresee the future of new legal measures introduced in the period of the fight against the coronavirus.

“We must predict which of these acts will be much needed after the end of the epidemic and will be transferred from the pilot mode to the permanent regime of application, and which will require prompt cancellation, otherwise risking to damage the normal state of the legal system”, the Minister explained.

In addition, Konstantin Chuychenko focused on the need to codify and harmonize such measures at the international level. According to the Minister of Justice of the Russian Federation, if this is not done, countries may face the practice of double standards: the same acts in some states will be recognized as legitimate, while in others - as a derogation of human rights and freedoms.

“The question of enhancing the current international legal regulation is already being raised. As soon as the situation allows it, such work can be launched on one of the specialized international platforms. The result should be the preparation of a draft international treaty. This document shall address at the global level the issues of ensuring rapid exchange of information, cross-border movement of people in emergency conditions, providing assistance to the most affected states, effective coordination of international efforts to combat the epidemic, and other issues”, summarized Konstantin.

Chuychenko.Shanmugam, Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Law of the Republic of Singapore, agreed on the need for such an international instrument. In his view, now the countries need to develop a common tool that could be used when future pandemics emerge.

“It is necessary to avoid taking political advantage on the international arena or giving political labels to the actions of others. Now it is necessary to assess the best practices of each country - the United States, China, Japan - and then try to form something that will work not only in the current situation, but also in the future”, added K. Shanmugam.

For his part, Minister of Justice of the Republic of Uzbekistan Ruslanbek Davletov proposed several areas of work for the countries in the context of pandemics: safeguarding rights and freedoms during quarantine, development of the legal framework for digitalization, and assistance to small and medium businesses. He paid great attention to the ways of organizing public services after the quarantine.

“Many organizations have now suspended operations, but people's needs do not disappear: their satisfaction is simply postponed. If action is not taken today, tomorrow there will be queues and corruption, and a new outbreak of the pandemic disease may begin. There is an urgent need to change the way we work: everything that can be digitized and done remotely needs to be transferred to remote work during the quarantine period. E-services need to be taken to a new level”, stressed Ruslanbek Davletov.

In conclusion of the discussion, Minister of Justice Konstantin Chuychenko reminded those present that all the restrictions that are now being imposed by the states must be based on clearly defined procedures to preserve democracy.

St. Petersburg International Legal Forum 9 ½: The Rule of Corona will be held online from April 10 to 12. Heads of Russian and international authorities, lawyers, researchers, politicians and journalists will take part in virtual discussions. The main topic of the forum is legal aspects of public and business life in the context of COVID-19 pandemic.