In the midst of ongoing Covid-19 pandemic, the majority of people in the world continue to suffer impacts of the public health crisis in every aspect of their life.
According to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), everyone has the right to adequate health and social security. It means that there is an international commitment to address these obligations of States especially during the time of pandemic. This is why the world has to be reminded of and reiterate the importance of universality and non-discriminatory principles of human rights in responding this crises.
Public health can never be achieved until everyone’s right to health is fulfilled equally. The rights to health and social protection are recognized in a number of human rights norms and instruments, including the UDHR and the International Convention on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Accordion to the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), social protection as a fundamental human right, is crucial for guaranteeing a life in dignity and a potent tool to combat discrimination and an essential instrument for promoting social inclusion.
During the pandemic, migrant workers have become one of the most vulnerable groups. Many migrant workers around the world are denied access to health services, facilities, vaccines or financial support due to their specific vulnerabilities or status as a migrant. This violates the Article 22 and 25 of UDHR on Right to Social Security and Right to Adequate Health, and undermines the fundamental spirit of universality of human rights.
Embracing “Equality” as the theme of Human Rights Day 2021, BEBESEA urges all States to excercise their human rights obligations to respect, protect and fulfil the right to health and social protection of everyone regardless of their race, religion, gender, sexual orientation, political opinions as well as immigration status. In exercising the obligations, the public health crisis should not be used as a justification for undermining and abandoning democratic principles and violating the right to freedom of expression and information. All programs and services to address public health crises must be accountable and accessible for all. These must include participation of affected communities, especially marginalised and vulnerable groups, in developing, implementing and evaluating all measures. Meaningful participation is the only key for successfully overcoming the pandemic better together.
This crisis has given lessons and opportunities to promote the universality of human rights.
Article 1, UDHR: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.”
On 10 December 2021