International solidarity in aid of the realization of human rights during and after the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic


Published:
13 April 2021
Issued by:
The Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity
Presented:
At the 47th session of the HRC

Background

In the present report, the Independent Expert discusses how international solidarity in aid of the fuller realization of all categories of human rights has, or has not, been expressed by States and other actors in the context of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. He discusses the serious threats to the enjoyment of human rights posed by the pandemic and the measures put into place to control it. He articulates the moral and legal rationale for an international solidarity obligation, including in the context of the pandemic, discusses examples of gaps in the enjoyment of international solidarity and identifies and highlights positive expressions of such solidarity by States and non-State actors, including best practices.

Summary

A novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) has swept across the globe since its causative agent – first known as 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), but currently designated as SARS-CoV-2 – was first identified on 7 January 2020.1 On 11 March 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. As at December 2020, over a million lives had been lost, with the toll sadly continuing to rise, although the rise is expected to wane in significant measure by the last quarter of 2021, due to the ongoing deployment of several vaccines against the disease. Despite there currently being many more people recovering from the disease, there are increasing reports of long-term debilitating health effects for some of the recovered.

The COVID-19 pandemic and the measures taken to contain it have led to serious socioeconomic difficulties around the world. Nearly 90 million people are estimated to have now fallen into "extreme deprivation". In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the existing obligations to express international solidarity in the human rights field, including through international cooperation, have taken on a particular and renewed importance and urgency. It is therefore crucial that the ways in which international solidarity has, or has not, been expressed by States and other actors in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, towards the fuller realization of all categories of human rights, be more systematically studied and understood, including by the Human Rights Council.

The report is divided into six sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. The pandemic, and measures taken to contain it, as a threat to the enjoyment of all categories of human rights
  3. The international solidarity imperative for the realization of human rights during and after the pandemic
  4. Gaps in international solidarity in the context of the pandemic
  5. Positive expressions of international solidarity for the realization of human rights during and after the pandemic
  6. Conclusions and recommendations