Covid-19 pandemic has served as a strong reminder of the danger that states of emergency pose to democracy, demonstrating the need for clear legal norms for governing emergencies while preserving fundamental democratic principles. However, the pandemic also demonstrates the need for global norms for governing emergencies, in times when the threat to democracy is not limited to the regime of one country or another, but rather becomes a global threat. This is true not only in the case of pandemics, but also for other types of global emergencies, such as terrorism, warfare, economic meltdown or climate catastrophes.
The paper, which is currently a work in progress, will discuss the potential role of international law in constructing such norms – particularly amid emergencies related to terrorism, which, as we will demonstrate, pose a unique challenge to democratic principles. The paper will examine the potential of International Human Rights Law (IHRL) to provide countries with a legal model for adapting to national security emergencies and preserving democracy, on two main levels. First, on the positive level, we will study the norms of IHRL that could potentially restrict state power under emergency rule and discuss their limitations. Second, on the practical-empirical level, we will conduct interviews with lawmakers and practitioners in the field of counterterrorism from various countries, to determine the level to which they consider international law norms in their legal policy.