COVID-19

What human rights can offer during the pandemic, and what the pandemic means for human rights.

Fusion Medical Animation/Unsplash

Even as it has frozen activity around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has spurred the human rights movement into action and reflection. These articles explore the many facets of what the pandemic means for human rights—from the solutions it has inspired to the challenges it has created and deepened. The pendulum swings, from risk to opportunity, from despair to hope, from fear to tolerance. Where will it land? This collection makes clear that there is still room to shape the result—a task for us all.

 

This collection was created with and edited by David Petrasek, dear friend and senior editor of OpenGlobalRights, and is published in his memory. For a more in-depth look into the windows of opportunity that the pandemic has created for a better future, see our Up Close series on Imagining our Post-Pandemic Futures.

 

The efficacy of lockdowns for COVID-19: humanising the law of derogation

By: Nafees Ahmad

Derogation from human rights obligations may be permitted in a crisis like the COVID-19 pandemic, but where is the balance between safety and people’s rights?

A genuine human rights-based approach for our post-pandemic future

By: John Packer & Slava Balan
Español | Français | العربية | 简体中文 | Русский | فارسی | Limba Română | Português

When many governments are still willing to trade the lives of the vulnerable for the economic gains of the wealthiest, we need a human rights-based approach to ...

Our post-COVID future should be as much about welfare as it is about tech

By: Beatriz Botero Arcila
Español

Surveillance thrives in unequal environments, and the pandemic has increased inequality. We need a welfare state for our digital information economy.

Cancelled, postponed, virtual: COVID-19’s impact on human rights oversight

By: Citlalli Ochoa & Lisa Reinsberg
Español

Advocates’ access to human rights spaces has taken a hit with COVID-19, but this pandemic provides an opportunity to make human rights oversight more inclusive ...

Twice the work and half the support: COVID-19 and single working mothers

By: Kayla Winarsky Green
Español | Français

How can businesses help to reduce the pandemic’s unequal burden on single mothers?

Budgets are political documents: can they help control the pandemic and fight for justice?

By: Ana Cernov & Iara Pietricovsky & Nathalie Beghin
Português | Español

Budgetary decisions are always political, and these documents are a crucial tool for civil society to protect rights and demand justice.

Legal Empowerment during COVID-19: from JusticePower to #FreeThemAll

By: Tyler Walton
Español

Immigrants have decried the use of detention as migration deterrence for years, but the pandemic has given advocates a new touch point in the collective social ...

The right to employment security in post-COVID Indonesia

By: Dominique Virgil
Bahasa

Prioritizing the launch of Indonesia’s pre-employment card compromises the distribution of existing social assistance programs that could directly help those in ...

Lockdowns vs. religious freedom: COVID-19 is a trust building exercise

By: Gunnar Ekeløve-Slydal & Liv H. Kvanvig
Русский | Bahasa

Governments must partner with faith leaders to battle COVID-19, creating an opportunity to build necessary trust and cooperation with wider parts of the population.

A post-pandemic world: well-being for all or deepening inequality?

By: Guillermo Torres
Español

Putting fear aside as we emerge from this pandemic will allow space for what we value most in people: empathy, solidarity and mutual support.

Pandemic denial: an imperfect storm for autocratization in Brazil

By: Conrado Hübner
Español | Português

Rather than using the pandemic to consolidate power, Bolsonaro has denied the problem and clashed with his own government—could this mistake end his autocracy?

Early parole reforms in Turkey put political prisoners at increased risk

By: Ali Yildiz
Español | Türkçe

A new early parole bill in Turkey had the potential to improve the country’s human rights track record—but instead, it leaves political prisoners even worse off.

Normalizing the state of exception: Japan’s response to COVID-19

By: Saul Takahashi 
Español

COVID-19 may prove to be just the game changer that Japan’s prime minister needs to push through his agenda for revising the Constitution.

Returning to “normal” is impossible for India’s tea plantation workers

By: Shreya Sen
Español

Workers in India’s tea plantations have pre-existing health and environmental conditions that make them highly vulnerable to COVID-19, making a return to “normal” ...

London refugee groups offer online services but face disparities in connectivity

By: Christa Blackmon
Français | العربية

With millions of the world’s students now facing extended learning at home, the required access to the internet—and to the right devices—is exposing drastic inequalities.

Coronavirus and the right to online political participation

By: Sam Bocetta
Français

Making access to the internet a human right can address inequalities in access to public discourse, especially where free speech is limited.

Coronavirus in austerity Britain: poverty and discrimination compounded

By: Imogen Richmond-Bishop & Sara Bailey

The global pandemic—following ten years of draconian austerity measures in the UK—has created a perfect storm of human rights violations against already marginalized ...

Will COVID-19 increase religious hostilities and discrimination?

By: Marie Juul Petersen  & Claire Thomas & Sajjad Hassan
Español | العربية

COVID-19 and its impacts may hit some religious minorities disproportionately hard, exacerbating economic inequalities, social hostilities and discrimination.

What does protection from persecution look like during a pandemic?

By: Kathryn Hampton
Español | Français

Policy decisions to exclude asylum seekers due to the pandemic are neither predetermined nor inevitable: we have a choice.

COVID-19 exposes why access to the internet is a human right

By: Jack J. Barry
Español | Français

COVID-19 has exposed the underlying reality that not everyone has internet at home.

Time for a rights-based global economic stimulus to tackle COVID-19

By: Ignacio Saiz
Español | Français

During this pandemic, economic rescue packages—nationally and globally—must protect the socioeconomic rights of those most at risk.

To face COVID-19, the human rights community must first protect its own workers

By: Lysa John
Español | Français

The COVID-19 crisis should be a wake-up call to civil society to strengthen the social protection measures in our own industry.

In a pandemic, be a positive disruptor and not an ambulance chaser

By: Anjli Parrin & Gulika Reddy
Español | Français

In moments of crisis, it is critical that social justice advocates remain focused on ethical and transformative advocacy, not reactive short-term change.

Post-pandemic futures, hope, and human rights

By: César Rodríguez-Garavito
Español | Français | العربية

If human rights actors are to help shape the post-pandemic world, they need to start imagining it now.

Post-pandemic collective action for health rights and social justice is essential

By: Alicia Ely Yamin
Español | Français | Limba Română

The pandemic shows the need for post-crisis collective action, and rising to the task will be essential if we are to realize a new global economic order—with human ...

Making a Community Action Net (work): organising in the times of COVID-19

By: Ella Scheepers & Ishtar Lakhani & Kasey Armstrong
Français | Español

Community Action Networks in South Africa bring residents from varied backgrounds into collective action to find solutions to COVID-related issues.

Covid-19 and the duty to provide health information to diverse populations

By: Anne Hellum & Kristin Bergtora Sandvik & Tatanya Valland & Marta BIvand Erdal
Español | Français

As European nations struggle to provide COVID-19 information to immigrant and minority populations, Norway illustrates a grounded and inclusive approach.

Over-policing in India is not the answer to COVID-19

By: Urmila Pullat & Roohi Huma
Español | العربية

The recent behaviour of police in India begs the question: is a punitive approach to a public health crisis necessary and warranted?

Solidarity key to post COVID-19 response

By: Obiora C. Okafor
Español | Français

Realizing the vision embodied by human rights requires bolder measures and commitments to international solidarity than the world has so far witnessed.

China, the coronavirus, and the liberal international order

By: Christopher W. Bishop
Español | 简体中文

China’s apparent success in tackling COVID-19 will bolster its authoritarian political system—and its restrictive approach to human rights.

We need privacy and data laws to tackle this world pandemic

By: Beatriz Botero Arcila
Español | 简体中文 | Limba Română

Governments are increasingly using digital technologies and big data analytics to address the Covid-19 pandemic. These technologies can’t replace other comprehensive ...

New policies for a new crisis

By: Koldo Casla
Español

Human rights activists don’t have all the answers to the pandemic, but they should focus on protecting the most vulnerable, and be alert to creeping authoritarianism.

Global HIV/AIDS response, shows human rights is path to success against COVID-19

By: Steven L. B. Jensen
Español | Français

The global response to the HIV/AIDS epidemic found success when it put human rights at the core of its efforts, a lesson of key importance to our present and future ...

Rights and responsibilities in the Coronavirus pandemic

By: Kathryn Sikkink
Español | Português | Limba Română

To protect our collective right to health in the current pandemic situation, we need to balance our individual rights with collective responsibilities.