Balancing Public Health and Human Rights in the COVID-19 Context: The Case of Taiwan

Compared to other countries around the world, Taiwan has shown success in blocking the influx of the coronavirus and preventing its spread there. Learning from the painful experience of SARS in 2003, the Taiwanese government quickly imposed various public health measures, such as mandatory face-coverings, timely border controls, and the use of digital devices to monitor the health of all people under quarantine since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic. The major legal authorities supporting those measures have been the Communicable Disease Control Act and the Special Covid-19 Act. Although some public health measures and provisions have raised human rights concerns, no serious human rights violations have been charged nor have further judicial actions been taken. The author argues that democratic governance and the well-established collaboration between government and civil society are the main factors that can best explain Taiwan’s success in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic.