27 April 2020

UNSG Releases Policy Brief on COVID-19 and Human Rights: We are all in this together

People – and their rights – must be front an centre.

UNSG, Mr. Antonio Guterres


Human rights put people centre-stage and are key in shaping the pandemic response, both for the public health emergency and the broader impact on people’s lives and livelihoods.

The recent human rights brief has a threefold aim, which will position us to build back better for everyone:

  • To strengthen the effectiveness of the response to the immediate global health threat;
  • Mitigate the broader impact of the crisis on people’s lives;
  • Avoid creating new or exacerbating existing problems.

In his recent Call to Action for Human Rights to put human rights at the heart of UN actions, including in times of crisis, the Secretary-General underlined that our shared human condition and values must be a source of unity, not division and points to the ways in which we can transform hope into concrete action with real impact on people’s lives.

Three rights are at the frontline in the current pandemic:

  • Right to life and duty to protect life
  • The right to health and access to health care
  • The central challenge to freedom of movement

This paper aims to translate the Call for Human Rights into concrete action to assist with the response to the pandemic. It presents six key messages that must be central to an effective response to the COVID-19 pandemic including protecting people’s lives and livelihoods, solidarity and recovering better than we were before.

Communication materials:
Read UNSG statement here.
Read brief here.