Tuesday, February 16, 2021
Elections in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic: An International Human Rights Perspective with a Specific Focus on Vulnerable Groups
Christina Binder (Bundeswehr University Munich), Adam Drnovsky (Bundeswehr University Munich), Elections in Times of the COVID-19 Pandemic: An International Human Rights Perspective with a Specific Focus on Vulnerable Groups, Cross Cultural Human Rights Rev. 62 (2020):
When holding elections in times of the COVID-19 pandemic, states face the challenge of balancing diverging human rights obligations. States are obliged to protect the life and health of the individuals under their jurisdictions while, at the same time, they are held to respect the right to political participation and related political freedoms. This is particularly evident in case of vulnerable groups, i.e. COVID-19 risk groups who may suffer from severe health implications when contracting COVID-19. Examining how to reconcile the potentially diverging human rights obligations at stake, this article argues that the tension is not insurmountable. Within the international human rights framework, there is leeway for states to adopt situation specific solutions. Indeed, as relevant state practice shows, states can adopt risk-mitigating measures and rely on alternative voting methods such as postal voting in order to protect the health of vulnerable groups. In the utmost, they may postpone elections. Yet human rights law puts in place conditions and limits to state action.