COVID-19 and Human Rights: We are all in this together

AUTHORS    The United Nations

LOCATION   International


This new report highlights how this public health emergency is fast becoming an economic, social and human rights crisis and how these factors must guide COVID-19 response and recovery. The report underscores that the best response is one that responds proportionately to immediate threats, while protecting human rights and the rule of law.

How does this research apply to my work?

The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the vulnerability of the least protected in society. The deep economic and social inequalities and inadequate health and social protection systems require urgent attention as part of the public health response. Women and men, children, youth and older persons, refugees and migrants, the poor, people with disabilities, persons in detention, minorities, LGBTI people, among others, are all being affected differently. By adopting a human rights response, this highlights who is suffering the most, why and what can be done about it. This lens exposes the existing weaknesses in the delivery of public services and structural inequalities that impede access to them. In addition, the report highlights that extra attention must be paid to the fact that migrants, refugees and internally displaced persons are particularly vulnerable to stigma, xenophobia, hate speech and related intolerance.

What should I take away from this research?

  • This report outlines six key human rights messages:

  • Protecting people’s lives is the priority; protecting livelihoods help us do it
  • The virus does not discriminate but its impacts do
  • Involve everyone in your response
  • The threat is the virus, not the people
  • No country can beat this alone
  • When we recover, we must be better than we were before

What’s the next step?

It is important that all actors, especially governments, ensure that international human rights, humanitarian and refugee law and standards are at the centre of all COVID-19 responses. The United Nations system, including OHCHR and many special rapporteurs, have produced advice and guidance for this purpose. This report highlights the 15 recommendations for moving forward.

Read more here

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