Reflections on the COVID-19 Restrictions in Belgium and the Rule of Law


  • Patrick Praet



rule of law, Rechtsstaat, judicial review, COVID-19, European Convention on Human Rights


The paper examines the legality and legitimacy of Belgium’s COVID-19-related restrictions in light of national and international guidelines. Its discussion proceeds from the most vital characteristic of any law-based state: the government being subject to standards of substantive and procedural legality, even during a pandemic. After this, the effect of the crisis on the Belgian Rechtsstaat is examined, with special emphasis on the functioning of the separation of powers and on the unprecedented predominance of the executive power, alongside the legal basis for the latter’s actions. The author concludes that the Belgian measures against the virus’s spread have failed to meet the cumulative requirements of the rule-of-law test. Discussion then turns to the possibly huge ramifications for some wider debates in the field of philosophy of law, both for classic topoi ( such as law and morality or utilitarianism) and for contemporary current debates such as constitutionalism, sovereignty, and juristocracy. In its concluding remarks, the paper raises issues of the unspoken social contract between the people and the state: will the restrictions amid the pandemic go down in history as a singular, unique event or, instead, as a step on the slippery slope toward permanent crisis management in the name of a new sanitary order?


Download data is not yet available.




How to Cite

Praet, P. (2021). Reflections on the COVID-19 Restrictions in Belgium and the Rule of Law. Juridica International, 30, 194–207.