Time to reconsider declarations of states of emergency for protracted crises »Publications» Washington Policy Center


Sometimes when you see a study you cry tears of joy. This is one of those times. The O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law is ending the widespread use of emergency powers across the world, even as the COVID pandemic enters an endemic phase. Their experts recommend reforms to emergency powers.

Of new study from the O’Neill Institute:

  • “While these laudable goals may justify the use of emergency powers, what happens when the threat is no longer a short-term emergency? As parts of the world begin to gradually return to a semblance of normalcy, disease models predict that SARS-CoV-2 may continue to circulate for some time. While emergency declarations can be useful tools for dealing with short-term crises, they need to be scrutinized to ensure that they do not contribute to democratic retreat.
  • “The clusters of cases that will emerge are now expected and predictable – no longer meeting this definition of emergency – and could be contained through a more narrowly tailored approach than a declaration of a state of emergency. “
  • “However, lifting the state of emergency should not depend on a complete eradication of COVID-19. Prolonged states of emergency, especially in the context of inequitable vaccine distribution, will not only continue to stratify public health outcomes, but can also extend to the health of civic, political and democratic institutions.
  • “When states of emergency are needed, governments should consider adopting declarations of urgency that include sunset clauses or expiration dates, as the extension of such declarations might require both action. executive and action by other branches of government, offering protection against democratic regression. Protracted states of emergency can have a stifling effect on key democratic principles, including democratic debate, discussion and participation, even when employed in the most benevolent and well-meaning ways. The prolonged use of heavy legal tools is a cause for concern and needs to be closely examined. “
  • “We, as a global community, should demand that governments be prepared to impose limitations on their own powers, making emergency declarations the exception instead of the rule. “

Can I get an amen?

Additional information
Why Washington State Needs Emergency Powers Reform (Video)
How should Washington state reform its emergency powers? (radio interview)


About Author

Comments are closed.