The U.S. and its allies also could try to sue China before an international tribunal, such as the International Court of Justice, although countries have never been sued for their violation of infectious-disease treaties. But even if a court were to judge China responsible for the injury caused by its handling of COVID-19, China would just ignore any decision. When the Permanent Court of Arbitration found that China’s construction of artificial islands in the South China Sea violated international law, Beijing simply ignored the ruling. A Chinese official declared that the judgment was “nothing more than a piece of paper.” We should expect nothing different from China in the case of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has only a weak, non-binding dispute-resolution mechanism, but China’s failure to promptly report the coronavirus outbreak to the organization violated the International Health Regulations, which require states to notify the WHO of potential public-health emergencies “of international concern.”
In fact, China has used its financial war chest to manipulate the WHO.