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Derogation from Human Rights Treaties in Situations of Natural or Man-Made Disasters

  • Emanuele SommarioEmail author
Chapter

Abstract

Certain natural or technological disasters may have exceptionally severe consequences that call for the adoption of extraordinary measures. Some of these may restrict individual rights and freedoms to an extent which is not compatible with the affected State’s international obligations under human rights law. Yet, the existence of a public emergency of significant magnitude may temporarily exonerate States from the duty to fully respect their human rights commitments, either through the operation of specific clauses that are included in the relevant treaties (so-called “derogation clauses”), or—where no such provision is present—by invoking certain justifications recognized in international law as valid excuses for the non-performance of legal obligations. This chapter intends to look at the practice of States and treaty monitoring bodies in order to ascertain what substantial and procedural requirements States must fulfill if they deem it necessary to suspend individual rights while coping with a public emergency prompted by a natural or man-made disaster. The purpose is to ascertain what features a disaster must present in order to trigger the right to derogate, to what extent human rights may be suspended, what formal steps must be undertaken by authorities which choose to derogate from human rights treaties, and which are the legal parameters under general international law with regard to the suspension of treaties which do not explicitly provide for a right to derogate.

Keywords

International disaster response law Human rights Derogation Non-derogable rights State of emergency State responsibility 

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Copyright information

© T.M.C. ASSER PRESS, The Hague, The Netherlands, and the author(s) 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Scuola Superiore Sant’AnnaPisaItaly

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