UN Human Rights bodies special procedures have been developing different efforts to stress the importance of adopting a human rights approach in addressing the COVID-19 crisis. Beyond issuing a series of joint press releases and statements, a group of different mandate holders, such as Special Rapporteurs and independent experts, have decided to dedicate their next reports to the United Nations Human Rights Council or the General Assembly on COVID-19 and how the pandemic affects their respective fields and Human Rights in general.

The group of experts issued a joint call for contributions, engaging governments and civil society organizations in the process. The questionnaire is meant to assist mandate holders in obtaining information and elaborating comprehensive recommendations on the measures taken by national, federal and local governments to protect their population and ensure the enjoyment of human rights, including particular groups at risk of discrimination or social exclusion.

The Global Platform for the Right to the City has sent contributions to the report, based on the key ideas of the communiqué released in March, as well as the takeaways of the assemblies held in April with GPR2C members and allies on the impact of the pandemic in their communities and what is being done. The GPR2C’s responses stressed a preoccupation with the overall absence of a Human Rights approach in the response to the pandemic, with an increase of violations around the world, especially concerning the most vulnerable groups.

Between the many themes present in the mandate holder’s questionnaire, GPR2C’s responses focused on four main points:

  • Overall impact on Human Rights, specially concerning the most vulnerable groups;
  • Statistical information, and ensuring that all information gathered is representative of the entirety of the population and territory;
  • Participation and consultation, highlighting issues related to lack of transparency, restriction of assemblies and protests and the impact of elections;
  • Internet, focusing on the need to bridge the digital gap

Beyond these concerns, the responses highlighted also the proliferation of initiatives and policies led by governments and civil society to face the pandemic and how some of those, if sustained in the long-term, could lead to substantial change regarding the models followed until now. In this sense, the responses have highlighted the need of transparency concerning the future of those policies, as well as the need of adopting an approach that recognizes the universality and interdependence of all human rights, for all.

You can read the GPR2C’s contributions in full here (available in English).