COVID-19 and Human Rights: We are all in this together
Human rights are key in shaping the pandemic response, both for the public health emergency and the broader impact on people’s lives and livelihoods. Human rights put people centre-stage. Responses that are shaped by and respect human rights result in better outcomes in beating the pandemic, ensuring healthcare for everyone and preserving human dignity. But they also focus our attention on who is suffering most, why, and what can be done about it. They prepare the ground now for emerging from this crisis with more equitable and sustainable societies, development and peace.
In his recent Call to Action for Human Rights to put human rights at the heart of UN actions, including in times of crisis the Secretary-General underlined that:
our shared human condition and values must be a source of unity, not division. We must give people hope and a vision of what the future can hold. The human rights system helps us to meet the challenges, opportunities and needs of the 21st century; to reconstruct relations between people and leaders; and to achieve the global stability, solidarity, pluralism and inclusion on which we all depend. It points to the ways in which we can transform hope into concrete action with real impact on people’s lives. It must never be a pretext for power or politics; it is above both.
This paper aims to translate this Call into concrete action to assist with the response to the pandemic. It presents six key messages that must be central to an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic.