Virtual Seminar: State responsibility for actions taken by States regarding the COVID-19 virus

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused almost every government around the world to enact public health regulations.  Many governments have also cited COVID-19 as the motivation for passing regulatory measures across a broad range of other policy areas.  These have included human rights, trade, refugee, foreign investment, humanitarian law.

In addition, in relation to the pandemic, States around the world have responded to the WHO directives, epidemiology and science in different ways.  Often, neighbours have taken diametrically different pathways to dealing with the pandemic.  Not infrequently, these different approaches have been contradictory and inconsistent.

Each of these phenomena raise important fundamental questions about State Responsibility.  At what point in the pandemic (and in future pandemics) is or should State Responsibility be engaged?  Against what standard of State Responsibility is or should be State conduct assessed?  Who should do the assessing?  How should disputes arising out of State Responsibility issues be resolved?

The speakers at this virtual seminar addressed and discussed these and other topics.


The speakers for this seminar were:

Professor Dan Sarooshi Q.C., a barrister at Essex Court Chambers, London.  He is also Professor of Public International Law in the University of Oxford.  He has argued cases in the ICJ, WTO, ECHR, UN Tribunals; and investment cases in ICSID, ICSID AF, NAFTA, PCA, ICC and UNCITRAL Tribunals.  In domestic courts, he has argued cases in the UK Supreme Court (including the Brexit case), Court of Appeal, High Court; and in the British Virgin Islands, Hong Kong, and Bahamas.


Ms Ndanga Kamau, an international lawyer specialising in international dispute settlement and public international law.  She is the founder of Ndanga Kamau Law, an international law practice based in The Hague.  Prior to starting her own practice she worked in law firms, international organisations, an arbitral institution and government. Ms Kamau is a Vice President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, President of the ICC Africa Commission, Vice Chair of the IBA Arbitration Committee, and Director of Programmes of the African Association of International Law


Dr Yun Huang, a lecturer at the Southwest University of Political Science and Law in Chongqing, China.  Her work focuses on interdisciplinary studies of international law and extradition.  Dr Huang obtained a Juris Scientiae Doctoris from Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri.  She is qualified to practice law in both New York and China (mainland).


Mr Robert Volterra, Partner at Volterra Fietta and visiting professor of law at University College London.  Mr Volterra advises and represents governments, international organisations and private clients on a wide range of public international law issues, including the law of armed conflict and international humanitarian law.  Mr Volterra regularly acts as co‑agent, counsel and advocate before the International Court of Justice and ad hoc international arbitration tribunals, including under the PCA, ICSID, ICC, SCC, LCIA, UNCITRAL, WTO and UNCLOS rules.  Mr Volterra is on the UK Attorney General’s A-list for public international law practitioners.


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