This latest report from UK think tank the Henry Jackson Society looks at a potential breach of International Health Regulations by China.
A UK lawsuit against China for “patent breaches” of the International Health Regulations in its handling of COVID-19 could be worth £351 billion. The report claims that the Chinese Communist Party’s early handling of the disease and failure to adequately report information to the WHO breached Articles Six and Seven of the International Health Regulations, a Treaty to which China is a signatory and legally obliged to uphold. These breaches – it is claimed – allowed the outbreak to rapidly spread outside Wuhan, its place of origin. The minutes of the UK’s scientific advisory group on new and emerging viral threats record how the lack of information delayed the response to the virus including the lack of travel screening, according to an outline in the report. A University of Southampton study has previously found that — should strict quarantine measures have been introduced three weeks earlier — the diseases spread would have been reduced by some 95%. As a result of the breaches of international law, the report assesses that potential damages liable against China could run to £3.2 trillion from just the G7 nations. The UK is said to have a claim worth a potential £351 billion in damages based on announced government spending. The US meanwhile could claim £933.3 billion, Canada £47.9 billion, and Australia £29.9 billion. Acknowledging the difficulties in securing international justice, the report offers ten different potential legal avenues for action against China across domestic and international jurisdictional venues. While many of these enforce treaties other than IHRs, the report argues that public international lawyers might — as has previously been done — make use of relevant clauses in order to uphold international norms. The Henry Jackson Society’s recommendations include making use of the International Court of Justice; Permanent Court of Arbitration; Hong Kong Courts; dispute resolutions through Bilateral Investment Treaties; and actions at the WTO.Read Full Report