Published: 24th April 2020
UN chief calls for protection of human rights in pandemic response
Guterres said governments must be "transparent, responsive and accountable," and stressed that press freedom, civil society organisations, the private sector and "civic space" are essential
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has stressed the need to protect human rights in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. "The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health emergency.
But it is far more: it is an economic crisis, a social crisis, and a human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis," said Guterres in a video message on Thursday for the launch of a policy brief on the importance of human rights in the response to the pandemic.
He warned that with "rising ethno-nationalism, populism, authoritarianism and a push back against human rights in some countries, the crisis can provide a pretext to adopt repressive measures for purposes unrelated to the pandemic", UN News reported.
Guterres said governments must be "transparent, responsive and accountable," and stressed that press freedom, civil society organisations, the private sector and "civic space" are essential.
The UN chief called for measures to ensure that any emergency measures - including states of emergency - are legal, proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory, have a specific focus and duration, and take the least intrusive approach possible to protect public health.
"The best response is one that responds proportionately to immediate threats while protecting human rights and the rule of law," he said.