COVID-19 and its human rights dimensions

COVID-19 is a test of societies, of governments, of communities and of individuals. It is a time for solidarity and cooperation to tackle the virus, and to mitigate the effects, often unintended, of measures designed to halt the spread of COVID-19. Respect for human rights across the spectrum, including economic, social, cultural, and civil and political rights, will be fundamental to the success of the public health response and recovery from the pandemic.

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds globally, the UN Human Rights Office is issuing a range of products and succinct guidance on the many human rights dimensions of the pandemic, which can be found on our dedicated COVID-19 webpage.

Among our guidance notes are recommendations on what States can do to ensure the respect for human rights across the spectrum, which will be fundamental to the success of the public health response and recovery from the pandemic. The “COVID-19 Guidance” gives digestible base-line information on key categories, including:

Indigenous peoples;
Access to healthcare;
Leaving no one behind;
Major social and economic impacts;
Emergency measures;
People with disabilities;
Older persons;
People in detention and institutions;
Information and participation;
Stigmatization, xenophobia, racism;
Hate speech;
Migrants, displaced people and refugees;
Gender (including domestic violence);
Water and sanitation;
Business and human rights;
International and unilateral sanctions;
International cooperation and solidarity.

Other resources:

UN policy brief on COVID-19 and human rights;
Statement by UN Torture Prevention Experts;
List of gender-related COVID-19 resources by UN entity (22-May-20);
UN policy brief on COVID-19 and people on the move;
Joint statement on compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres in Asia and the Pacific;
Joint statement on COVID-19 in prisons and other closed settings by UN, WHO, UNAIDS and OHCHR;
Minorities-indigenous peoples and COVID-19;
Emergency measures and COVID-19;
Statement on derogations from the Covenant in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic adopted by the Human Rights Committee;
Call for joint action in the times of the COVID-19 pandemic by CEDAW;
Elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

The web page also provides a gateway to all the COVID-related news releases issued by the 56 independent UN experts, known as Special Rapporteurs, who have specific mandates on issues ranging from extrajudicial killings and violence against women to foreign debt, housing, poverty and the right to health; as well as on certain individual countries and territories such as Cambodia, North Korea, Myanmar and the occupied Palestinian territory.

See the News Release by the Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Cambodia: Cambodia’s state of emergency law endangers human rights warns UN expert.

See News Releases by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on:
• State of Emergency: Exceptional measures should not be cover for human rights abuses and violations.
• Asia-Pacific: Bachelet alarmed by clampdown on freedom of expression during COVID-19

See the statement UN High Commissioner for Human Rights in an informal briefing to the Human Rights Council on COVID-19: COVID is “a colossal test of leadership” requiring coordinated action.

Watch videos related COVID-19 and human rights:

We are all in this Together Human Rights and COVID-19 Response
Secretary-General António Guterres on the 75th anniversary of the UN Charter
Opening statement by HC Michelle Bachelet at 44th session of the Human Rights Council
UN chief on World Environment Day 2020
UN Chief on COVID-19 and people on the move
UN Secretary General at launch of Policy Brief on Persons with Disabilities and COVID-19
COVID-19: A colossal test of leadership
Coronavirus impact on human rights
UN Secertary-General António Guterres on the Verified initiative
Let's defeat COVID19 and Hate Speech together
UN Secretary-General on mental health during COVID19
Secretary-General on World Press Freedom Day (3 May 2020)
Emergency Measures
Bachelet Human Rights Council briefing on COVID 19
UN Chief on International Mother Earth Day (22 April 2020)
Secretary-General's video message on World Health Day (7 April 2020)
COVID 19 Imprisonment, a measure of last resort - High Commissioner Bachelet
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres calls for a global ceasefire in light of COVID19
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres takes questions on the COVID19 pandemic
Coronavirus pandemic is a crisis that affects everyone