Coronavirus: beyond human rights
I live and breathe human rights, but what’s at stake is even more important.
I write this in haste, like everything that is being written about Covid19. Most of us outside China only started to take this threat seriously in the last two weeks. Scientists and politicians don’t know enough about the scale of the problem, let alone the solutions. Spain’s Prime Minister confessed that “whoever claims to know what needs to be done in this emergency will learn nothing from it.” In normal circumstances this would be profoundly concerning, yet I find his candour strangely reassuring.
As we brace ourselves against the crisis, valuable contributions have been made to examine its human rights implications. For example, Amnesty International has produced these preliminary observations on States’ international obligations. Independent UN experts have warned that emergency measures should not be used to suppress human rights. And academics have written about how States should respond from the perspective of the right to health and other social rights, and of freedom of movement and other civil rights.
The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, issued a press release on March 6 to stress that “human rights need to be front and centre in the response” to Coronavirus. I tick all the boxes of the typical supporter of a statement like this. I joined Amnesty International when I was 15; have been involved in human rights activism for two decades; and teach human rights law at the University of Essex. I should agree with Dr Bachelet. However, I’m not sure I do.
Read the full article on: openDemocracy