Crisis lawmaking in the dawn of the COVID-19 pandemic spurred treaty bodies collectively to caution states that they should regularly gather and assess data both during and following the pandemic in order to ascertain the extent to which individuals were disadvantaged during the pandemic. A methodology for gathering and assessing such data has been well developed in the form of human rights impact assessment (HRIA). There are many examples of HRIA practice, particularly in the area of children’s rights impact assessment (CRIA). Some practice is good. Some is better. Some is best. This article is concerned with how government could use HRIA to: optimize the state’s ability to demonstrate compliance with international human rights obligations; contextualize the ways in which state policies shape peoples’ lived experiences of human rights by identifying opportunities to adjust proposed law and policy changes prior to implementation; and develop a repository of information demonstrating tensions between law and the lived experiences of rights for the full spectrum of rights-holders. Relying predominantly on Scottish examples of Covid-19 pandemic-era HRIA and CRIA, the analysis offers insights on how HRIA could be used more effectively in crisis lawmaking.  


This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/), which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.

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McCall-Smith, K. 2022, 'Good better best? Human rights impact assessment in crisis lawmaking', The International Journal of Human Rights. https://doi.org/10.1080/13642987.2022.2057955

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Last updated: 30 June 2022
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