JEAIL > Volume 14(1); 2021 > Regional Focus
Research Paper
Published online: May 30, 2021

The Obligations of China and the Role of International Law in the Context of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Xinxiang Shi & Xiaoou Zheng
Dalian Maritime University 1, Linghai Rd, Ganjingzi District, Dalian, P.R. China.
Corresponding Author:

ⓒ Copyright YIJUN Institute of International Law
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted non-commercial use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

This short article examines whether China has incurred responsibility for violating a general due diligence obligation in customary international law or specific obligations under the WHO’s International Health Regulations and the WHO Constitution in a context of Covid-19. It is submitted that due diligence is merely a notion to describe a primary obligation, or a standard by which a particular primary obligation is assessed. It cannot serve as the basis for holding a State responsible. Regarding the WHO regime, actions taken by China after December 2019 neatly fit into the staggered requirements of Articles 6 and 7 of the International Health Regulations, which do not set out clear standards for the evaluation of a health emergency. On a more general level, we reflect upon the role of international law in global pandemic control and caution against the politicization of international health law.

Keywords : State Responsibility, Due Diligence, International Health Regulations, Covid-19, China

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