This roundtable is based on a book edited by the roundtable chair, Victor V. Ramraj, entitled Covid-19 in Asia: Law and Policy Contexts, published by Oxford University Press in December 2021:
The book considers Asia’s legal and policy responses to the Covid-19 pandemic, which, in a matter of months, has swept around the globe, infecting millions and transforming daily life in almost every corner of the planet. In a matter of weeks, the unimaginable became ordinary: lockdowns of cities and entire countries, physical distancing and quarantines, travel restrictions and border controls, movement-tracking technology, mandatory closures of all but essential services, economic devastation and mass unemployment, and government assistance programs on record-breaking scales. Yet the pandemic, under contemporary conditions of globalization, left governments and their advisors scrambling to improvise solutions, often themselves unprecedented in modern times. The collection of essays on which this roundtable is based analyzes law and policy responses across Asia, identifying cross-cutting themes and challenges. The collection begins with an epidemiological overview and survey of the law and policy themes and then presents cross-cutting thematic essays and case studies covering five topics: first wave containment measures; emergency powers; technology, science, and expertise; politics, religion, and governance; and economy, climate, and sustainability. The participants in this roundtable will consider how the pandemic has unfolded since its emergence in early 2020. In the course of the roundtable, we will discuss recent developments in Bhutan, India, Mongolia, Singapore, and Thailand, and in relation to the World Health Organization and multilateral cooperation—and the lessons learnt in relation to the legal, economic, social, and geopolitical impact of the pandemic. The roundtable will be structured as a moderated discussion of cross-cutting questions, pre-arranged by the chair (and volume editor), who has extensive experience co-hosting a roundtable series on Southeast Asia in Global Context at the Centre for Asia-Pacific Initiatives, University of Victoria.