The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous challenges for national economies, livelihoods, and public services, including health systems. In January 2021, the World Health Organization proposed an international treaty on pandemics to strengthen the political commitment towards global pandemic preparedness, control, and response. The plan is to present a draft treaty to the World Health Assembly in May 2021.
To inform the design of a support system for this treaty, we explored existing mechanisms for periodic reviews conducted either by peers or an external group as well as mechanisms for in-country investigations, conducted with or without country consent. Based on our review, we summarized key design principles requisite for review and investigation mechanisms and explain how these could be applied to pandemics preparedness, control, and response in global health.
While there is no single global mechanism that could serve as a model in its own right, there is potential to combine aspects of existing mechanisms. A Universal Periodic Review design based on the model of human rights treaties with independent experts as the authorized monitoring body, if made obligatory, could support compliance with a new pandemic treaty. In terms of on-site investigations, the model by the Committee on Prevention of Torture could lend itself to treaty monitoring and outbreak investigations on short notice or unannounced. These mechanisms need to be put in place in accordance with several core interlinked design principles: compliance; accountability; independence; transparency and data sharing; speed; emphasis on capabilities; and incentives.
The World Health Organization can incentivize and complement these efforts. It has an essential role in providing countries with technical support and tools to strengthen emergency preparedness and response capacities, including technical support for creating surveillance structures, integrating non-traditional data sources, creating data governance and data sharing standards, and conducting regular monitoring and assessment of preparedness and response capacities.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus was first detected in the city of Wuhan in late 2019, from where it rapidly spread throughout China and to other countries. On 30 January 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 a public health emergency of international concern under the International Health Regulations (IHR). To help countries tackle the outbreak, WHO also launched the Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan1 and an associated monitoring and evaluation framework with key performance indicators for COVID‑19 preparedness, response and situations in countries.2 To date, countries have developed national preparedness and response plans, with WHO and other United Nations (UN) and international organizations supporting implementation for those with weak health systems and significant gaps in preparedness.3
The COVID-19 pandemic has created enormous challenges for national economies, livelihoods, and public services, including health systems. In the Executive Board meeting in January 2021, WHO proposed a pandemic treaty as initially proposed by the President of the European Council, Charles Michel. The treaty, considered to reinforce the commitments on the IHR, would be negotiated under the auspices of WHO as the tobacco convention in 2003.5 The plan is to present a draft treaty at the World Health Assembly (WHA) in May 2021.[i]
As suggested by the Africa Group, WHO is also developing a Universal Health and Preparedness Review, which is a voluntary, member state-led mechanism aimed to strengthen international cooperation, foster exchange of best practices, identify new and emerging issues, promote accountability, and ensure efficient targeting and use of investments. The WHO Secretariat will support the Review; however, its modalities are not yet confirmed. Germany and France will initially pilot it.
Additionally, the international community is discussing whether there is a need for a more permanent mechanism to independently investigate disease outbreaks and the public health response in countries to enable timely and effective preparedness and response planning and implementation.
To inform these discussions, in this paper, we explore existing institutional mechanisms with a mandate to review compliance with the rules and regulations set out in key international agreements (treaties, conventions, statutes, regulations) in their signatory countries (Section 2) and conduct independent country investigations in a manner that manages sovereign considerations (Section 3). For the entities identified, we looked at relevant powers and legal enablers, and where possible, governance and funding. Annex 1 is a summary of the entities reviewed. Based on our review, we summarize key design principles requisite for review and investigation mechanisms and consider their application to pandemic preparedness, control, and response.
2. Review Mechanisms
Most international agreements, including treaties, conventions, statutes, and regulations have a mechanism to track state performance and compliance through periodic reviews. These periodic reviews are facilitated and organized in a range of ways depending on the agreement. In this section, we explore periodic reviews conducted by a number of UN and multilateral organizations and group them by the type of reviewer to peer and external reviews.
A periodic review panel can consist of all member states, a sub-group of member states, or an external group of experts, either elected following a competitive application process or selected from an expert roster. Based on the periodic review findings, in most cases, the member state receives feedback and recommendations that it is expected to officially respond to and implement. However, there is no sanction on incentive mechanism directly linked to the periodic review process as such.
In most cases, the initial country report is developed by the member state under review. However, in some cases, it is externally developed by peer countries or the relevant Secretariat. To complement and verify the country report, some review processes include consultations with a range of stakeholders and allow for “shadow reports” provided by non-state entities, including civil society organizations (CSOs) and UN agencies.[i]
The reporting period varies by the agreement from annual up to seven years. In some agreements, reporting differs by country (for example, the more activities, the more frequent reporting) or by breadth (for example, exhaustive reports that are required less frequently).
Table 1. Summary of Review Mechanisms
2.1 Peer Reviews
The following entities conduct periodic reviews utilizing various peer-review process:
- Human Rights Council (HRC) coordinates the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) which is a state-led process to monitor legal obligations and norms set in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights of all 193 UN Member States.7 The UPR Working Group, consisting of the 47 members of the HCR, facilitates the reviews. It is supported by “troikas” consisting of three Member States who act as rapporteurs. The UPR is conducted every 4.5 years for each Member State. It is based on a national report by a government, reports by independent human rights experts, such as Special Rapporteurs, and information from other UN agencies, human rights organizations, and CSOs.[ii] The findings and recommendations are discussed in a rigorous 3.5-hour Working Group session, followed by a Plenary when the final report is adopted by the Member State. The progress towards implementing the recommendations is then reviewed in a follow-up session. Where a Member State is not cooperating with the UPR, for example, by refusing to participate in review sessions, the HRC will decide on the measures to be taken.9 The UPR has contributed to better coordination and improved partnership-based relationship between the government and civil society in many countries. However, it lacks a formal country-level follow-up mechanism, such as obligatory action planning or multi-sectoral coordinating mechanism.11
- The Financial Action Task Force on money laundering (FATF), housed at the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), conducts periodic Mutual Evaluations of countries to monitor compliance with the international standards for money laundering and terrorist financing.12 These peer reviews are conducted every five years by a group of 5-6 experts from Member States, supported by the FAFT Secretariat. The process is lengthy, taking up to 14 months to complete. It consists of an on-site visit to solicit input from the government and CSOs, followed by a Plenary to discuss the country findings and adopt a Mutual Evaluation Report. After the review, the country reports back to the FATF regularly on the progress made, and the FATF conducts a follow-up review after five years.13
- The World Trade Organization (WTO) facilitates Trade Policy Reviews that are peer assessments of countries’ compliance with the trade agreements. The reviews take place under the Trade Policy Review Body that consists of all WTO Member States. The process includes a policy statement from the country under review, a report prepared by the WTO Secretariat as well as advance written questions by peer WTO Member States, a peer review meeting in Geneva, and a final report which consists of the minutes of the Geneva meeting, the country’s self-report, the Secretariat report and the comment s of the chairperson. The review period ranges from every three to five to seven years, depending on the country’s share of world trade.14 There has been some criticism towards the reviews being too optimistic, as both the Secretariat and peer countries are under pressure to positively rate the countries.15
- The WHO Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC) requires each of the 168 State Parties to submit periodic reports to the Conference of the Parties (COP) via the Convention Secretariat.16 In addition to monitoring the implementation of the FCTC, the purpose of the peer review is to learn from each other’s experiences. The reporting cycle is every two years and the reports are compiled in a global report by the Secretariat.
2.2 External Reviews
The following entities conduct external reviews, either by a group of independent experts or staff of an authorized organization:
- Human rights treaty bodies monitor the implementation of the UN’s nine core human rights treaties and their optional protocols. The reviews are conducted by independent experts that are elected by States Parties for four years. The review protocol is similar to the UPR described above, with the cycle varying from two to five years and the size of monitoring committees ranging from 10 to 23 members. In addition to the periodic report by a State Party, information is also solicited from civil society, national human rights institutions, UN agencies and other relevant organizations. The monitoring committee examines each report and following a “constructive dialogue”, makes concluding observations and recommendations for the State Party.17 These periodic reviews contribute to the UPR process.
- The International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (ICERD) creates a mechanism for conciliation between two parties who disagree on whether a State Party is giving effect to the terms of the Convention. Pursuant to Article 12 of the Convention, the Chairman of the Committee overseeing compliance with ICERD may appoint an ad hoc Conciliation Commission comprised of five Commissioners that have been unanimously agreed upon by both parties to the dispute. If the parties fail to agree on Commissioners within three months, the Committee selects the Commissioners through a secret ballot. The Commissioners prepare a report with findings of facts and recommendations that are provided to each of the States Parties to the dispute and the Commission. The States Parties are required to inform the Chairman of whether they accept the recommendations within three months.[iii] Though ad hoc Conciliation Commissions have rarely been used, the model of a mutually agreed-upon selection of expert Commissioners may be an avenue to obtain cooperation from reluctant stakeholders.
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF) conducts periodic reviews of all of its member countries to identify risks to domestic and global economic and financial stability. The reviews, called Article IV consultations usually take place annually. IMF staff conduct a country visit to discuss the implementation of monetary and fiscal policies and reforms with the government, the central bank, and other stakeholders such as labor unions or civil society. The findings are presented to the Executive Board for discussion. A summary of the Executive Board’s decisions and recommendations is then transmitted to the member country under review. Member countries are obliged to provide the IMF with all necessary information; however, there are no legal consequences for non-compliance. Further, member countries are not legally obliged to follow the recommendations.18
- The Secretariat of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) reviews the climate change data provided by the 197 convention signatories. The monitoring mechanism requires the countries to establish an inventory system and report on the emission data to the Secretariat on an annual basis, and broader reports every two and four years. To enhance the objectivity of the review, the country reports are evaluated by an international group of experts, selected on an ad hoc basis from the UNFCCC roster. If the reporting is found to be deficient, sanctions may be imposed.19 However, the “bottom-up” country reporting system is criticized for being inconsistent and without a transparent methodology.20
- The International Labour Organization (ILO) solicits reports from all 187 ILO Member States on the application of international labor standards. The review is twofold. First, the Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations (CEACR), consisting of independent legal experts (not ILO staff), reviews reports annually and issues comments or, in more serious cases observations, as well as direct requests for further information.21’22 Secondly, the Committee on the Application of Standards, a tripartite body under the International Labour Conference, made up of government, employer, and worker delegates also assesses country reviews. It draws on the comments by CEACR for its discussion, assesses the country’s compliance with the reporting obligations, and in case of repeated failures, names the country (“naming and shaming”).22
3. Country Investigations
Many agreements give powers to an assigned entity to conduct on-site visits. The purpose of these visits is to support member state compliance with the agreement as well as to investigate issues or concerns. The terms of these visits are usually outlined in the agreement or its additional protocols that the member states accept by signing. While most of the on-site visits are planned together with a signatory state in advance, agreements on the use of nuclear energy, chemical weapons, and prevention of torture form an exception, with the respective organizations having powers to access the signatory state without a particular consent for the visit. In this section, we explore these two types of investigations: on-site visits with and without country consent.
3.1 On-site visits with country consent
The following entities conduct on-site visits that require country consent:
- HRC Special Procedures are a mechanism to examine and monitor human rights situations in specific countries (“country mandates”) or on major human rights issues (thematic mandates). Within this procedure, independent human rights experts (“Special Rapporteur” or “Independent Expert”) or working groups (with five members, one from each region), serving in their personal capacities, can investigate violations through on-site visits, act on individual cases and concerns, and issue reports with recommendations. At the end of the visit, Special Procedures’ mandate-holders discuss the findings and recommendations with the state and report back to the HRC.23
- UN Fact-finding missions and Commissions of Inquiry are the UN’s mechanisms to gather objective information, monitor conflicts and signal concerns over peace, security, and human rights in countries. The Security Council, the UN General Assembly (UNGA), the Secretary-General and the HRC can undertake these missions. The missions usually require Member State consent.24 However, there are cases where this has been bypassed, for example, by visiting the border of a neighbouring Member State.25
- The International Criminal Court (ICC), is a permanent international court with jurisdiction to prosecute international crimes against humanity, genocide, and war crimes. The ICC’s Office of the Prosecutor investigates cases, including on-site, or interviews witnesses either in-country or abroad. However, the host country must be either a State Party to the Rome Statute, such that it has accepted ICC jurisdiction or has otherwise agreed to an investigatory visit. The ICC has field offices where it conducts investigations, currently in six locations.27 A State Party may withdraw from the ICC, but only after providing two years notice. This prevents State Parties from blocking unwanted investigations of human rights abuses that may have been committed after agreeing to ICC jurisdiction.
3.2 On-site visits without country consent
The following entities that report to the UNGA and the Security Council can conduct on-site visits in signatory countries without the country’s consent for the particular visit:
- The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is authorized to verify Member State compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) that is negotiated for each of the 172 member countries separately. While routine on-site visits are planned based on a Member State’s nuclear-related activities (for example, number, type, and life cycle of facilities), the IAEA can also undertake visits unannounced or on a short (2-24 hour) notice. The visits, conducted by its independent inspectors, include inspections of nuclear facilities and the collection of environmental samples.28 Under the Additional Protocol to the safeguards agreements, the IAEA has a complementary inspection authority to assure both declared and undeclared activities and use, for example, the use of satellite systems to monitor the sites.29 The IAEA report is provided for the Member State that can then publish the report.
- The Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) has the power to send inspectors to any of the 193 State Parties to the Chemical Weapons Convention to investigate evidence of chemicals weapons in facilities or areas. The OPCW conducts routine on-site visits and, by following a rigid protocol, may undertake unconsented “challenge inspections” to any State Party at another’s request.30 While the State Party under inspection has no right of refusal, it may ask for sections of the final report to be confidential. The OPCW Executive Council decides on a challenge inspection. However, in practice, such a visit has never been done. During the on-site visits and in the presence of State Party representatives, the OPCW team has the right to review any documentation, observe activities, take samples, and interview any personnel relevant to the inspection of a facility. Upon completion of an inspection, the State Party representatives and personnel are given formal feedback followed by a report. The State Party has a right of reply to the report. The OPCW has an additional mechanism to request clarification for concerns that do not require an on-site inspection.31 The OPCW Executive Council is the governing body and consists of 41 elected States Parties. However, there are no provisions in the Convention that explicitly authorize any particular body to decide between compliance and non-compliance. 31
- Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture (SPT), is a human rights treaty body consisting of 25 independent experts. It differs from other human rights treaty bodies in that it has a preventive mandate. SPT’s key instrument is to visit places of detention within a State Party that are conducted by at least two members who are accompanied by other experts if needed. By becoming a party to the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (OPCAT), States Parties agree to give the SPT access when requested, including for unannounced visits. During the visit, the SPT has unrestricted access to examine sites where persons may be deprived of their liberty, such as prisons, care institutions, or police stations, and to undertake confidential interviews. The State Party can object to a visit to a particular place of detention only on urgent and compelling grounds of national defence, public safety, natural disaster, or serious disorder at the site, that temporarily prevents the carrying out of such a visit. The SPT provides the State Party with a report and recommendations following the visit that can be confidential. However, where the State Party does not comply with the recommendations, the SPT can make the report public.26
4. Key Design Principles for a Review and an Investigation Mechanism
We have identified[iv] critical interlinked design principles required for a review and investigation mechanism for pandemics. These include:
- Compliance – the mechanisms need to encourage state compliance with the agreement. To this end, peer pressure and data verification from complementary sources, such as civil society, national human rights institutions and the private sector can assist and should be explicitly and automatically permitted.
- Accountability – the mechanisms need to effectively trigger a high-level political response in cases of concern, including within the WHO at the Director-General level. Triggering a high-level political response at a state level would likely require direct links to a Ministry higher than the Ministry of Health.
- Independence – the mechanisms should be politically and financially independent to reduce barriers to raising sensitive issues. Selection processes for reviewers or investigators must be based on their technical skills and expertise instead of based on who supported their nomination.
- Transparency and data sharing – the mechanisms need to ensure prompt access to information during investigations and ensure transparency and effective data sharing when reviewing countries’ preparedness capacity and response after a crisis.
- Speed – while not applicable for a review mechanism that takes place periodically, an investigation mechanism needs to be activated promptly after detection of a public health emergency to effectively track the origin of the outbreak. The mechanisms should avoid any procedure where consensus or unanimity is required to activate an investigation. It also should provide a means for states’ concerns to be addressed, including for determining the modalities of how the investigation is to take place.
- Emphasis on capabilities –Rather than focusing on eight static core capacities,[v] the broader assessment of capabilities, including political factors and leadership, needs to be embedded in the mechanisms to better understand states’ level of preparedness, control, and response. To this end, the mechanisms should be led by experts with technical skills to properly assess preparedness, control and response and advise on remedial action where it is lacking.
- Incentive – the mechanism should be linked to incentives to motivate states to conduct reviews and grant access to on-site investigations (for example, access to vaccines, technical or financial support for health system strengthening).
Complementing each other, both review and investigation mechanisms should be put in place within the parameters described above. This section provides a synthesis of both mechanisms. Further information is contained in Annex 1.
5.1. Periodic Reviews
The purpose of the periodic review is to assess member states’ implementation of the obligations contained in an international agreement. The country report provides an overview of implemented policies, programs and laws. It is a lengthy and demanding process and its preparation requires resources and thus, can be done only a few years apart. Nevertheless, if made obligatory for all signatory states, the periodic review can become an instrument to monitor state compliance with the new pandemic treaty.
The periodic review is not suitable for the prompt assessment required for outbreak investigations. However, it provides an opportunity to regularly review countries’ preparedness plans, while also serving as a mechanism to assess the response in the long term. The treaty reporting process could be streamlined: signatory states could be required to provide a comprehensive initial report that includes the political, economic and cultural context and an assessment of the country’s pandemic preparedness. Subsequent reports would focus on particular issues as requested by the monitoring committee.
The UPR could be adopted as the model for the reporting process and include complimentary or “shadow” reports from non-state sources, such as civil society, UN agencies and other multilaterals, and national human rights institutions, to promote transparency and data verification.
A monitoring committee comprised of independent experts is an alternative to the UPR peer-review process. A committee of independent experts may promote the independence and transparency of the reviews. The independent experts could be either elected for a certain period of time (human rights treaty bodies) or selected from a roster of experts (UNFCCC).
The treaty should provide for the situation of non-compliance with the periodic reporting process, including the failure to participate in the review process, to share all relevant information or to implement committee recommendations. The consequences of non-compliance could include investigation visits (IAEA or SCT) or “naming and shaming” practices (ILO) as well as legal consequences.
Whereas human rights treaty bodies are often seeking to identify violations by a state under their supervision, the mechanisms for the pandemic treaty could be seen as helping states be better prepared by identifying shortcomings. Actively identifying the types of support a signatory country required (financial, technical, commodities) to be better prepared could be welcomed, particularly where a country’s lack of resources or expertise caused the shortcomings. The approach may contribute to better collaboration and transparency.
Regular monitoring between the reviews, linked to WHO’s technical advice and capacity building mechanisms, is also required.
5.2. On-site Investigations
The purpose of the on-site investigations is to verify that states comply with the commitments outlined in the international agreement. They serve as an early warning and check-up mechanism if some concerns related to non-compliance or risks for public health emergencies arise. On-site investigations would help identify the origin of disease outbreaks and early circulation of pathogens and review whether the measures undertaken by the relevant state have been adequate.
Currently, outbreak investigations require country consent for each requested visit and they rely heavily on the data and information provided by the state. The time required to obtain consent can significantly delay investigations. On-site visits that can take place announced or on short notice as with investigations related to nuclear and chemical weapons or the prevention of torture, could help address this issue. To this end, a clear description of “sites” is required. For example, weapons treaties allow visits to declared facilities (production facilities), while the definition of “sites” under the optional protocol of prevention of torture is broader.[vi]
Further, the “triggers” for these strictly regulated visits need to be well defined. First, the authority that can trigger an investigation can be either the inspecting entity itself or peer states. For example, the investigating entity may determine that an investigation is necessary based on the information it has obtained independently or from a reliable third party (for example, a State, UN agency or other). Secondly, the decision to conduct on-site visits needs to be based on reliable evidence, and complementary sources deploying digital technologies, such as real-time investigation of patterns of behaviours (for example, social media site tracking) could be deployed. While rarely, if ever used in practice, the on-site investigations without a specific country consent could have a preventive effect and incentivize early alert of outbreaks.
On-site investigations should be stipulated as part of the pandemic treaty, with a clear protocol for the process and assigned authority to conduct the visits. For example, decisions to take this action could be subject to a supermajority (60% or 2/3) to justify invoking an extraordinary power. While this could embed credibility in the decision taken to visit without consent, it does not tie the mechanism to any process that would allow a minority a veto, or otherwise hamper the decision-making process. While WHO conducts routine missions to assess country preparedness and response measures, the visits without state-specific consent could be conducted by an independent expert group to help mitigate political and financial pressure inherent to WHO.
The investigations mechanism should define whether it is applied to all public health emergencies (“events” as per the IHR) or only to disease outbreaks; whether it is universal or only for those without investigation capacity (resource-poor countries); whether it will be limited to pathogens with pandemic potential or also to those potentially deliberately released that pose a security issue. The competence of the investigation entity should be then designed accordingly.
Finally, the consequences of not allowing investigations, including issues with transparency and data sharing should be defined. If possible, oversight by the UN would give unique legal powers, political leverage, and pressure in cases of non-compliance that could raise the status of public health and strengthen political commitment and investment in epidemics preparedness and control.
6. The Way Forward
The political, economic, and societal challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and its control provide an opportunity to create an ambitious and progressive mechanism, with the mandate and requisite powers fit for purpose.
There is no single global mechanism that could serve as a model for reviewing and investigating pandemics preparedness, control, and response. However, there is potential to combine aspects of what already exists to develop a robust treaty to prevent or rapidly control future pandemics.
The mechanisms for periodic reviews and on-site investigations will need to incorporate core interlinked design principles: compliance; accountability; independence transparency and data sharing; speed; emphasis on capabilities; and incentives.
The periodic review should be made obligatory to support compliance with the new pandemic treaty. To ensure the independence of the monitoring committee, it could be designed based on the model of human rights treaties, with the committee comprised of independent experts. In addition to state reporting, the periodic review process should solicit feedback from civil society, national human rights institutions, UN agencies and other international and multilateral organizations.
State parties to the pandemic treaty should not be able to block on-site investigations. Independent experts conducting short notice or unannounced visits should be entitled to enter the State party and see any relevant place or person or document. The potential triggers for a short notice or unannounced visit will need to be clearly defined.
Finally, WHO can play a critical role to incentivize and complement these efforts. It has an essential role in providing countries with technical support and tools to strengthen emergency preparedness and response capacities. The support and tools include technical support for creating surveillance structures, integrating non-traditional data sources, creating data governance and data sharing standards, and conducting regular monitoring and assessment of preparedness and response capacities.
i. The WHA has also commissioned an independent evaluation to assess the international response to the COVID-19 pandemic to date, including with regard to the functioning of WHO and the IHR.6 The final report will be delivered to the WHA in May 2021. In addition to the Independent Panel conducting the evaluation, the IHR Review Committee on the COVID-19 response has been established to review the functioning of the IHR in particular.
ii. A national report by the State under review (approx. 20 pages) including information on normative and institutional frameworks; implementation of obligations; achievements, best practices, challenges, and commitments; and follow-up to previous recommendations; a UN report (approx. 10 pages) consolidated by OHCHR summarizing the reports from treaty bodies, special procedures, and other relevant UN documents; and a summary of other relevant stakeholders’ information (approx. 10 pages), such as NGOs, National Human Rights Institutions, academic or research institutions, regional organizations and civil society representatives.8
iii. For the process for an unresolved dispute, see International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, articles 11-13, https://www.ohchr.org/EN/ProfessionalInterest/Pages/CERD.aspx.
iv. Based on the review and interviews conducted in January 2021.
v. The IHR includes the following eight areas: National legislation, policy and financing; Coordination and National Focal Point communications; Surveillance; Response; Preparedness; Risk communication; Human Resources; and Laboratory.
vi. Under the Optional Protocol to the CAT, State Parties agree to “allow visits, under the present Protocol, by the mechanisms referred to in articles 2 and 3 to any place under its jurisdiction and control where persons are or may be deprived of their liberty, either by virtue of an order given by a public authority or at its instigation or with its consent or acquiescence (hereinafter referred to as places of detention).”
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