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Head of Council of Europe and Director-General of WHO urge greater heed to legal regulation to fight epidemic

Secretary General of the Council of Europe, Marija Pejčinović Burić, speaking at the Plenary Session of SPBILF 9 ½ made a point that in the face of the pandemic European nations must first and foremost provide their citizens with a right to equitable access to medical care.

 “It is set out in our conventions and often guaranteed, albeit in general terms, by national Constitutions. We had considered that these rights were safe in Europe today. But health systems in the most affected states have proven unprepared to respond to the emergency as we might have expected,” stressed Marija Pejčinović Burić.

The Secretary General of the Council of Europe noted that this is why the European nations should employ all the international legal mechanisms at hand including the European Social Charter, as well as the European Pharmacopeia – to revisit how medical care is handled.

“We are to find means and ways to strengthen the weak links in the first place. We are ready to help such [most hit by the coronavirus] countries. But we must also turn our attention to the situation facing vulnerable groups. These include the gravely ill, people in extreme hardship, the elderly, and those deprived of their liberty, including many migrants,” added Marija Pejčinović Burić.

She believes that such measures are necessary in the European countries to preclude a baleful influence of the pandemic upon the vulnerable groups and avoid situations when they cannot be saved.

 “This crisis for us is to pull ourselves together, respond properly to the situation and continue to act in concert,” concluded CE Secretary General.

 Director-General of the World Health Organization  Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus expatiated on the rule of law at a time of the coronavirus pandemic. He laid emphasis on the plight of nations with weak healthcare systems.

“Rule of law has a critical role to play in fighting this pandemic. As countries work to contain and mitigate the virus, many social challenges are arising, which require legal, regulatory and ethical responses. Some countries have had to dust off their old quarantine acts, others have invoked for the first time provisions from new laws that had not yet been tested in real-life scenarios,” said WHO DG. New laws, according to Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, should be swiftly adopted and implemented proportionate to the circumstances.

Another matter brought up by the WHO Director-General related to the situation in developing countries. “Populations in humanitarian settings are particularly at risk. They have few resources, and little access to health care and basic infrastructure. Physical distancing and hand washing may not be possible, which puts whole communities at risk. Countries who have the heavy responsibility of accommodating these vulnerable populations must be given the necessary tools and resources,” recapped Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus

St. Petersburg International Legal Forum (SPBILF) 9 ½: RULE OF CORONA is held online from 10th to 12th of April. The virtual discussions are attended by heads of Russian and international public authorities, legal professionals, academia, politicians and mass media. This year’s focus of the Forum is on the legal aspects of public and business life against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic. The registration of participants is free of charge and available at the link.