UN Chief Says Human Rights Must Be At Centre of Coronavirus Response


nited Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, on Thursday said human rights “must be front and centre” of the coronavirus crisis response and recovery.

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In launching a UN policy brief on the matter, Guterres said human rights could highlight who is suffering most.

“We have seen how the virus does not discriminate, but its impacts do — exposing deep weaknesses in the delivery of public services and structural inequalities that impede access to them,” he said in a video message.

He also noted the “disproportionate effects on certain communities, the rise of hate speech, the targeting of vulnerable groups, and the risks of heavy-handed security responses undermining the health response.”

“Against the background of rising ethno-nationalism, populism, authoritarianism and a pushback against human rights in some countries, the crisis can provide a pretext to adopt repressive measures for purposes unrelated to the pandemic,” he said.

The UN chief called this “unacceptable” and urged governments to be transparent, responsive and accountable and only enact emergency measures that are proportionate and non-discriminatory.

He said “we need to build back better” by strengthening economic and social rights.

“Let’s never forget – the threat is the virus, not people. We are all in this together.

“The virus threatens everyone, human rights uplift everyone,” Guterres said.

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