COVID-19 and Special Procedures
Special Procedures have taken numerous initiatives in relation to COVID-19 with the aim of stressing the importance of adopting a human rights-based approach in addressing the crisis. They have reiterated that the principles of non-discrimination, participation, empowerment and accountability need to be applied, and particular attention should be paid to people in vulnerable situations. Universal human rights principles must prevail over the spread of fake news, prejudice, discrimination, inequality and violence.
As the pandemic struck, a general call stressing that "everyone has the right to life-saving interventions" was initiated by the Special Rapporteur on the right to health and issued by more than 60 mandate holders. They emphasised that the COVID-19 crisis cannot be solved with public health and emergency measures alone, but all other human rights must also be addressed.
Since then, mandate holders have continued to identify trends and emerging issues, and to provide advice in connection with the emergency: as of 25 August 2021, they had issued 155 press releases, 14 guidance documents and other reference tools, and 19 official reports as well as one unofficial study. They have also examined allegations of human rights violations or concerns through the communications procedure: as of 25 August 2021, they had issued 455 letters relating to concerns directly connected to COVID-19 or the measures adopted in the context of the pandemic.
To provide a comprehensive overview on the wide range of actions undertaken by Special Procedures to address the pandemic, an informational note and a flyer have been made available and regularly updated.
On 30 April 2020, Special Procedures held a virtual informal conversation with the Human Rights Council, whose aim was to present and discuss the work done by mandate holders in relation to COVID-19. Ms. Elisabeth Tichy-Fisslberger, President of the Human Rights Council, called Special Procedures “the eyes and ears of the Council” and emphasised both the creativity and innovation of the tools and means developed by them to assist States and other stakeholders in their response to the crisis. Ms. Anita Ramasastry (read her statement) and Mr. Dainius Pūras (read his statement), representing the Coordination Committee, highlighted the broad variety of actions undertaken by mandate holders and presented three documents reflecting the contribution made so far by Special Procedures: a working report collecting all Special Procedures’ key messages and public actions in relation to COVID-19, the informational note and the flyer showing at a glance the range of documents and tools issued by mandate holders. Member States and civil society representatives commended the timely and substantive response of mandate holders to the challenges posed by COVID-19 demonstrating that Special Procedures are the crown jewel of the Council.
A compilation of the COVID-19 actions undertaken by Special Procedures is listed below: