Call for Papers Symposium on COVID-19 Certificates
Date: 17 March 2021
From: co-editors: Alberto Alemanno, Luiza Bialasiewicz
Cc: executive editor: Cliff Wirajendi
Re: Call for contributions to EJRR Symposium on COVID-19 CERTIFICATES
One year after the start of the pandemic, governments are desperately looking for paths out of some of the restrictive physical distancing measures and mobility controls imposed to control the spread of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The idea of granting special privileges to those who have been vaccinated or immunised is thus gaining momentum, across the world. From Israel to Iceland, states are moving to adopt vaguely-defined ‘vaccination certificates’ (physical as well as digital) as they seek to reopen borders to travel, unfreeze economies from costly lockdowns, and begin to restore a semblance of normality to social life.
While at present there is no international consensus on how or why such certificates should be used, a growing number of countries, from the European Union to Japan, as well as regions are considering developing COVID-19 certificates, which might cover vaccination and/or immunisation and perhaps also testing. The push by governments is further spurred by initiatives from the private sector, with tech giants including Microsoft and Oracle teaming up with travel industry associations such as IATA to create new ‘global digital health passes’.
Supporters of these documents argue they have a critical role to play in ending restrictions imposed to curtail the spread of the pandemic, at least in countries with wide scale access to vaccines, and would nudge the hesitant towards vaccination. Opponents highlight how these certificates pose considerable scientific, practical, equitable, and legal challenges – at least for now – and argue that they should not be used either within individual countries, or as a tool to unlock international travel. By replicating existing inequities, use of these certificates – in either physical or electronic form – be they vaccination and/or immunity passports would exacerbate the harm inflicted by COVID-19 on already vulnerable populations. Moreover, vaccination from a disease or immunity from disease (or lack thereof) as a health status appears to be a novel concept for legal protections, despite historical examples of the discriminatory impacts of immuno-privilege such as with yellow fever in New Orleans during the 19th century. The introduction of these measures must be understood in the context of the pressure governments might face from businesses seeking to adopt policies that return employees to the workforce, with corporate entities being the beneficiaries of the immuno-capital of workers.
International as well as national health bodies have thus far withheld support of such certificates. Both vaccination and immunisation certificates are inconsistent with the WHO’s temporary recommendations for international travelers. The German Bioethics Council as well as the UK’s Royal Society have also published a list of criteria that would have to be met for such certificates to fulfil their stated function (protecting both personal as well as public health) while also not setting a problematic precedent.
This EJRR Symposium intends to mobilize the research community that has been working on the issue from a variety of regional and disciplinary perspectives, so as to collect actionable evidence that might advance the state of knowledge and inform policymaking.
The format of the contributions sought is:
- opinion piece, backed by scientific literature;
- of a maximum length of 4000 words (incl. footnotes).
Interested contributors are invited to submit their short abstract (maximum 200 words) by 23 March by completing this form. Following a preselection, authors will be asked to submit their full manuscripts - according to the EJRR’s author instructions - by 16 April, which will be subject to a swift yet thorough peer-review. Accepted manuscripts will be published online first (on CUP FirstView), prior to the release of the entire special issue in early Summer.
We interested in contributions examining vaccine certificates from approaches including (but not limited to):
- global public health law
- international human rights law
- international trade law
- EU law
- biosecurity and immuno-capitalism
- critical border and migration studies
- science and technology studies (STS)
- data justice and digital economies
- critical studies of infrastructure
- critical geopolitics
Contributions can take a contemporary or longer historical perspective, and range in focus from the sub-national to the global scale.