Lockdowns and Intergenerational Justice

In its response to Covid, the UK made a policy decision to sacrifice both the short-term and long-term well-being of young people – in order to shortly prolong the life of the elderly. The UK’s policy regarding the pandemic has discriminated against younger generations by imposing blanket lockdowns and strict social distancing rules on the entire population, regardless of whether certain age-groups are likely to be affected by Covid – and while ignoring the different impact that the policy had on different age-groups’ current and future well-being.
While lockdowns and social distancing rules discriminated against younger generations, isolating only the elderly and vulnerable was both necessary and not discriminatory. Such a policy complies with the moral duties that are imposed by the concept of intergenerational justice and can also be justified behind a Rawlsian ‘veil of ignorance’. Isolating the elderly and the vulnerable should have been, however, advisory rather than compulsory.

Latin-American states’ responses to Covid-19 regarding corporate conduct

Relying on the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the paper will address the impact of government measures on human rights in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a special emphasis on measures taken by Latin American governments in order to regulate business conduct. To this end, the paper will draw on David Birchall’s argument that corporations exert power over human rights in four different venues: power over individuals, materialities, institutions, and discourse.

Mandatory Vaccination and Human Rights I

Mandatory vaccination is often opposed in principle. For example, the UK Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Sajid Javid, told the BBC on Dec 10, 2021 that he thought mandatory vaccination is “unethical”. Many others presume mandatory vaccination violates human rights. This view is mistaken, at least as a matter of international and comparative constitutional law, as I argue in this paper based on a piece I published recently in The Lancet.

Mandatory vaccination and Human Rights II

The paper will argue that a policy of mandatory vaccination against Covid violates human rights. Mandatory vaccination can be pursued for two goals. First, it may be motivated by a desire to reduce the circulation of the virus. The problem with this approach is that the effectiveness of the vaccines in stopping transmission is unclear and in any case seems to wane fairly quickly. In light of this, pursuing this goal by means of a severe interference with the right to physical integrity would be disproportionate. Second, the policy may be aimed at protecting those who get infected with the virus from developing severe illness and thereby also protecting the health services from becoming overburdened. This argument, however, amounts to medical paternalism and violates the principle of patient autonomy. It follows that a policy of mandatory vaccination is unjustifiable and violates human rights.