The Canadian Institute for International Law Expertise (CIFILE) has asked the prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate individual world leaders and the World Health Organization (WHO) for alleged international crimes relating to COVID-19.
The group states that past disease outbreaks, including SARS, suggest that the Director-General of the WHO should have notified nations well before the initial March 11, 2020, notification date. The complaint claims COVID-19 is a “crime against humanity” under Article 7(k) of the Rome Statute. The complaint further states that the ICC may exercise jurisdiction over international crimes under Articles 12 and 13 where a member state of the ICC has been affected. Specifically the complaint cites Canada as an affected signatory to the Rome Statute.
This is one of several legal actions attempting to resolve liability for the global COVID-19 pandemic. The US state of Missouri filed a suit in late April attempting to hold China responsible for COVID-19. Several legal professionals and scholars have evaluated the success of potential COVID-19 lawsuits including Charles I.M. Lugosi, Dr. Abbas Poorhashemi and Benjamin Davis.
For now it remains to be seen how these suits will progress especially with the current limited operations of various courts.
For more on COVID-19, see our special coverage.