Emergency Law Responses to Covid-19 and the Impact on Peace and Transition Processes

The World Health Organization declared the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic on 11 March 2020. This global health crisis demanded a quick, decisive and efficient response by governments to protect lives, curb the spread of the virus and prevent public health systems from being overwhelmed.

This report explores the way governments undergoing transitions to peace and democracy have triggered emergency legal frameworks to disable some ordinary (democratic) procedures and set aside standard political and legal accountability mechanisms as part of their Covid-19 response. It also provides information about where elections have been postponed or cancelled, and central governments have assumed enhanced responsibilities, which have often included powers otherwise designated to local or regional governments. While the impacts of both the pandemic and the responses to the contagion have been felt globally, they often have quite different consequences in countries attempting peace and democratic transition processes.

This report was developed as a follow-up to the Seventh Edinburgh Dialogue on Post-Conflict Constitution-Building held in December 2020. The dialogue was jointly organizedby International IDEA and the Edinburgh Centre for Constitutional Law, as part of the Political Settlements Research Programme of the University of Edinburgh.