Limitation and Derogation Provisions in International Human Rights Law Treaties and Their Use in Disaster Settings
It is unanimously accepted that individuals affected by calamitous events continue to enjoy the protection of International Human Rights Law. However, particularly in situations of disaster, national and international legal frameworks envisage the possibility to restrict or suspend certain rights to safeguard common societal interests, such as public order or public health. The nature and scope of these restrictions varies depending on the prevailing situation, with more serious circumstances allowing for more severe limitations.
This chapter will look at the practice of universal and regional human rights treaty monitoring bodies, to assess how they have reviewed situations in which disaster-stricken States have made use of clauses permitting the limitation of certain rights. It will also look at the practice of States that, in similar situations, have decided do partially suspend the enjoyment of human rights treaties, through the use of derogation clauses.
The chapter will consider the different standards adopted by treaty monitoring bodies, underline differences and communalities in the legal paradigms applicable to limitations and derogations and attempt to provide some explanation as to why States use one model rather than the other.