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The Regulatory Review tracks legal responses to COVID-19 from around the world

June 03, 2020

On the day President Trump announced his intention to withdraw the U.S. from the World Health Organization, Edward B. Shils Professor of Law and Professor of Political Science Cary Coglianese and Larissa Morgan L’21 sat down with the Case in Point podcast to discuss The Regulatory Review’s timely new essay series, “Comparing Nations’ Responses to COVID-19.”

Professor Coglianese is the Director of the Penn Program on Regulation and faculty advisor of The Regulatory Review. Morgan is the Editor-in-Chief of The Regulatory Review.

While the COVID-19 crisis is a public health crisis of the highest order, Professor Coglianese noted that that the crisis also represents an unprecedented challenge for law and regulation. The Regulatory Review’s series, he says, is “one of the largest and most ambitious series” the publication has ever run.

It is “truly the only place that one could go today” for analysis of how the legal systems of so many different countries are responding to the crisis. The series features essays by leading scholars from more than twenty different countries discussing the administrative law and regulatory law dimensions of the global response to COVID-19. Every continent is represented in the series.

“This is the kind of project that fits very well with the University of Pennsylvania’s cross-disciplinary approach to law,” says Professor Coglianese. “Here we can see how law is responding to and dealing with scientific, medical, public health, and economic crises through the restructuring of regulatory systems.”

Pressed to name particularly notable essays, Professor Coglianese highlights a piece by Professor Maria De Benedetto of Roma Tre University, who describes the COVID-19 crisis as a “crisis of trust,” with governments struggling to maintain the public’s confidence in the wisdom of their actions. Morgan praises an essay by Oswald Jansen, a Visiting Scholar-in-Residence at American University, who argues that international organizations like the World Health Organization need clear administrative principles to guide their public health emergency responses.

Asked how he thinks the pandemic will influence regulation in the future, Professor Coglianese said that, even in normal times, “society is moving pretty quickly” while “laws and regulations tend to be much more static.”

One lesson to take from the experience of the pandemic, he proposed, is that regulatory systems also need to be responsive. Regulating “requires ongoing vigilance,” he said. “This is certainly true in the face of a fast-moving public health crisis, but it’s also true in a world of fast-moving technological innovation, of innovation in business forms, and in investment strategies. We need to have a public regulatory system that’s adequately resourced and sufficiently staffed with individuals who can keep tabs on the changing world and be responsive to it.”

Listen to the podcast to hear the full interview and visit The Regulatory Review to read the series.