Regional Human Rights Mechanisms' Responses to the Covid-19 Pandemic

The OHCHR –National Institutions and Regional Mechanisms Section has collected information received from the network of focal points of Regional Human Rights Mechanisms, with the view of making a brief analysis of the common actions, and initiatives undertaken by these mechanisms, and the key issues focused on. The table attached, has also been shared with RHRMs to enable exchange of good practices across regions.

The main actions undertaken by RHRMs include issuing press releases and press statements with guidance to member states; tool kits and research papers.

Below is a brief analysis of the common or cross cutting issues emerging:

  • A common feature in the press statements and publications issued by RHRMs the restrictions and derogations on human rights and covenant obligations by member states of different regions.
  • Most mechanisms recommend that restrictions imposed by states on normal life should be applied proportionately, legally, with necessity and appropriately with due regard to public health considerations. Human rights should not be subjected to derogation during emergencies.
  • Most RHRMs reaffirmed the protection  of core rights such as the right to life, right to access to information, prohibition of torture, inhuman and degrading treatment and the right to health 
  • Most RHRMs acknowledged that COVID 19 has brought to light general weaknesses of health systems around the world, and limited global preparedness.
  • Particular attention was called for the respect of the rights of vulnerable groups especially the protection of women and children who are victims of domestic and gender based violence. In that respect, gender responsiveness has been highlighted as a means to counter the pandemic. 
  • Governments have been urged to prioritise and ensure access to personal protective equipment, regular covid-19 screening, antibody testing, psychosocial support and social protection measures for various population groups.