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HELP - Health Emergencies and Legal Preparedness: Global, Regional and National Approaches

  • Project category PRIN
  • Lenght from 30.09.2023 to 30.12.2025
  • Lab/Research Area Dirpolis Institute
  • Expected funding €187 500
  • Quota partner €97 575
  • Principal investigator Emanuele Sommario, Scuola Superiore Sant'Anna
  • Scientific Directors Emanuele Giuseppe Sommario
  • SSSA involvement Coordinatore

COVID-19 emerged in late 2019 and swiftly evolved into a global health crisis. Governments implemented various measures to curb the transmission of the virus, including social distancing, travel restrictions, and widespread lockdowns. The unprecedented nature of the threat led national authorities to adopt response strategies that were less than optimal. Inadequate reactions by States were also attributable to lacunae and uncertainties in the current legal frameworks.

The pandemic made clear that Legal Preparedness at global, regional and national levels becomes of utmost importance in this kind of situation. This concept rests on the idea that law is an essential tool for improving public health, which becomes even more relevant in emergencies. However, the function of Legal Preparedness has been rather underestimated until the present.
It is against this background that the project ‘Health Emergencies and Legal Preparedness: Global, Regional and National Approaches’ (HELP) was born. It aims to answer to the question: How can Legal Preparedness enhance policies and activities to prevent and address public health emergencies? The project is guided by the intention to support the pursuit of the health-related goals stemming from Next Generation EU (e.g. the EU4Health programme) and the Italian PNRR (Mission 6 ‘Health’).

The HELP project seeks to clarify the concept of Legal Preparedness as applicable to public health emergencies; analyse the relevant International and European human rights obligations relevant to this topic; and examine Italy’s capacity in this context, also to foster its ability to make a significant contribution in supranational fora. Moreover, the project will dedicate a special focus on the EU-African Union cooperation mechanisms.
This research project is being developed by the Sant’Anna School of Advanced Studies and the University of Bologna. In particular, the Sant’Anna research unit is composed of staff members of the Sant’Anna’s Institute of Law, Politics and Development (DIRPOLIS) and the University of Bologna research unit is composed of staff members of the EU Law team of the Department of Legal Studies.

The results of this work will take the shape of a series of academic publications. The project had its kick-off meeting in October 2023 with a one-day session with researchers from Sant’Anna and the University of Bologna, and external experts potentially interested in being associated with the project. During the meeting, the key aspects of the study and the first steps to be taken have been discussed. A final event will be held in 2025 to present the key outcomes of this project.