Methodology: COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker

Keep Civic Space Healthy

The Tracker monitors government responses to the pandemic that affect civic freedoms and human rights, focusing on emergency laws.

The COVID-19 Civic Freedom Tracker is based on publicly-available information, collected by ICNL and ECNL, our global network of civil society partners, and members of the public, with generous research support from the UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms while countering terrorism, Fionnuala Ní Aoláin.

While the Tracker seeks to represent all countries’ responses to the pandemic, it reflects only the information that we have collected or received. The absence of an entry for a particular country does not mean that country has not taken measures that affect rights and freedoms.

The Tracker seeks wherever possible to provide users with primary source documentation of governmental responses. Where official documents are not available, the Tracker provides a citation to reports from news media and civil society organizations.

“Government responses” monitored by the Tracker include enacted legal measures as well as governments’ practices undertaken in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The “Type” of measure distinguishes among those that are primarily executive or legislative in nature, as well as those that are legally binding:

  • “Orders” are executive measures including executive orders and presidential decrees.
  • “Laws” are measures that have been enacted through the legislative process.
  • “Regulations” are measures that guide the implementation of a law.
  • “Policies” are non-binding but documented government strategies.
  • “Practices” are widespread practices by government officials, not necessarily linked to any formal legal or policy directive.

For the purpose of the Tracker, “emergency declarations” includes formal declarations of a “state of emergency” (defined by Article 4 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights), as well as variations such as a “state of crisis,” “state of disaster,” and other terms used by governments to designate exceptional situations that justify some limitations on rights and freedoms. “Emergency laws” include legal measures adopted within the emergency framework.

The Tracker’s “Filter by” function can be used to locate legal measures and practices introduced in the past month, 3 months, 6 months, year, or within a custom date range. It can also be used to search for legal measures and practices by the “Issue” they involve (e.g., freedom of association, assembly, expression, or movement; freedom from discrimination; the right to privacy, access to information, and public participation). Some measures and practices may involve more than one issue and are identified accordingly.

For more information about the Tracker, contact Alexandra DeBlock at, or Simona Ognenovska at