Tove H. Malloy

My professional website

COVID-19 and the right to information

When the COVID-19 pandemic broke out, risk communication became a paramount tool in seeking to abate the spread of the Corona virus across the globe. Yet, it soon became clear that some people did not act according to instructions. The virus spread more rapidly among some groups in society, even as they believed they followed guidance and instructions. Communications experts, NGOs and human rights actors soon argued that there was a communication gap. Translation, interpretation and adaptation of information as well as participation of community leaders are factors needed to ensure that all members of society comprehend COVID-19 risk communication in their own language and on their own terms. Being able to make informed decisions in times of a pandemic is both a matter of saving lives and securing the human rights of everybody. The right to information is a core component of international human rights. It requires governments to provide physical access to information, but it is unfortunately rather silent about cognitive access. Since there is increased risk that health crises will become recurring phenomena, this chapter suggests that a more enlightened interpretation of the right to information in human rights law is needed. 

If you are interested in this topic, check out my chapter “COVID-19 risk communication: the right to information and participation” in the volume edited by Morten Kjærum, Martha F. Davis and Amanda Lyons, COVID-19 and Human Rights, Routledge 2021 here.


An ECPR standing group

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