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Research project

Human Rights in the Endgame of the COVID-19 Pandemic, and Beyond

This project has received funding via the EUI Research Council call 2019.

What are the main principles and elements of a human-rights-conforming strategy for European democratic societies in the “Endgame” of COVID-19? In this post-emergency phase of the epidemic, also called Phase Two, when the infection’s reproduction number has been lowered, there is an urge to open up society. Industries, services, commerce, public authorities, airports, educational institutions and many recreational activities become operative. It is for elected officials to weigh carefully the information generated by two epistemic communities: epidemiologists and economists. This project, however, seeks to demonstrate that decisions need to be informed by a third community, human rights experts. A human-rights-conforming strategy must protect these rights understood holistically, as interdependent and indivisible. The right to life deserves primacy but also other human rights require careful analysis.


The project's researchers published this EUI Working Paper in early 2021. It consists of three chapters:

  • "How a human rights-based response to health crisis differs from a populist or authoritarian one," by Martin Scheinin and Helga Molbæk-Steensig
  • "Methodological considerations when tracking policy responses to COVID-19: A survey of guides and trackers," by Helga Molbæk-Steensig
  • "A proposed model for the human rights assessment of COVID-19 strategies," by Martin Scheinin

The first of these chapters has now been published in the volume COVID-19 and Human Rights, edited by Morten Kjaerum, Martha F. Davis and Amanda Lyons (Routledge).

The assessment model presented in the third chapter was used in a pilot study, which assessed 17 countries in various world regions as to their compliance with human rights while combating COVID-19. The country assessments are available upon request. The comparative results of the pilot study were published as an STG Resilience Paper: Martin Scheinin, "Health Resilience Requires Rigorous Human Rights Assessment".

Professor Scheinin’s assessment of Finland’s strategic performance during COVID-19 will be published as a chapter in an edited volume to be published by Routledge. A draft version is available through SSRN.

 Blogs, Audio and Video

COVID-19 Symposium: To Derogate or Not to Derogate? (Opinio Juris, April 2020)

The COVID-19 Emergency in Finland: Best Practice and Problems (Verfassungsblog, April 2020)

Human Rights in the Age of Pandemics: A Checklist for COVID-19 Strategies (University of Oxford, video and audio, November 2020)

Finland: Soft measures, respect for the rule of law, and plenty of good luck (Verfassungsblog, February 2021)

Live Debate: Power and the Covid-19 Pandemic (Verfassungsblog, video February 2021)


Professor Scheinin initiated a fundraising campaign to help COVAX and UNICEF to vaccinate health care workers and other people at risk in more than 100 low-income countries. The target of the campaign Andrà tutto bene was set at € 5.000. By its closing date of 31 August 2021, the campaign had collected € 5.930.

The wider collection of donations to support COVID-19 vaccinations in the Global South nevertheless continues through the bank account UNICEF Finland,
IBAN FI 15 1529 3000 0000 87.

The team

Group members

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