Savage on NewsMax TV:
Today I’m speaking about reparations from China for releasing COVID-19. I was perhaps the first in the media to call for reparations from China, in early 2020.
Does China owe the world reparations for COVID-19? In my estimation, yes they do, and I will explain the reasons below.
But my position is nuanced.
What might be the price paid for forcing such payments? War with China is one. Moreover, history tells us that reparations perceived as unjust by a country’s people can turn into great propaganda tools.
We saw this exploited by a totalitarian regime in Germany after World War I, and it led directly to World War II and the Holocaust.
I also asked in 2020, “Is COVID 19 our generation’s Pearl Harbor?”
Yes, in many ways, it is.
What is the legal background for demanding reparations from China? I don’t believe it was planned or intentional, rather I do believe it was an accidental escape from their laboratory.
That said, the Chinese did cover this up.
And nations have duties under international law in relation to the outbreak of any disease.
A nation has a general obligation to prevent the spread of epidemics over borders into other countries.
That is a law that stems from the customary “No harm” principle.
China also has obligations under World Health Organization (WHO) international health regulations, IHR, which is an international treaty binding 196 states, including China.
Now Article 6 of this treaty says that each state “Shall notify WHO within 24 hours of assessment of public health events which may constitute a public health emergency of international concern within its territory.”
Article 7 of the WHO law provides that a state must share all information regarding “an unexpected or unusual public health event.”
The Chinese authorities not only hesitated to call up the WHO when they were aware of the impending release of COVID-19, but worse, they covered it up.
It’s an obligation of “conduct” and a nation does not have to be successful in its effort to halt or mitigate an outbreak, but it does have to make its best efforts to reduce the risk of transboundary harm.
And that should occur from the minute it gains knowledge of the risk. That is a standard of due diligence.
Once China’s officials knew about the outbreak, they were obligated to act immediately and transparently in order to attempt to prevent harm to other countries in close cooperation with the WHO.
But in fact, WHO helped to cover up the spread of COVID-19. You’re not reading this in the newspaper right now, but there’s a global backlash building against China over coronavirus.
There is a 1927 case where the permanent Court of International Justice asserted that a state must “Wipe out all the consequences of the illegal act, and re-establish the situation which would in all probability have existed if that act had not been committed.”
If such restitution and integrity is impossible, as in the case of an epidemic with thousands or hundreds of thousands of casualties, the only appropriate form of reparation is monetary compensation.
The Chinese authorities did not purposely cause the virus to spread, but they allowed it to happen. And so in such a case, according to the law, all that can be established is “normative causality.”