NHRCK Promptly Distributes International Guidance on COVID-19 and Human Rights to Relevant Actors
-United Nations highlights the need for providing stronger protection for socially vulnerable groups in emergencies-
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (Chairperson Young-ae Choi) seeks to contribute to collective efforts to fight COVID-19 by obtaining and translating relevant reports and guidance released by the United Nations Secretary-General and Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and distributing them to relevant ministries and civil society organizations in a prompt manner.
The COVID-19 pandemic, which has spread worldwide, emerges as a challenge that requires a collective response from humanity. In particular, the pandemic is causing an increase in discrimination and harm to economically and socially marginalized populations. Recognizing the need for a systematic and timely response to COVID-19, the international community, including the United Nations, has released a series of guidance documents on human rights and COVID-19.
Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said in a video message released on April 23 2020 that “the threat is the virus, not people (...) the virus does not discriminate, its impacts do.” The Secretary-General stressed the need to ensure respect for human rights, in particular the rights of socially vulnerable groups, in the COVID-19 response.
“The UN Secretary-General’s Policy Brief: Covid-19 and Human Rights” and “COVID-19 Guidance” highlight the importance of protecting the right to life, showing international solidarity and tackling hatred and discrimination and the role of national human rights institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition, the UN released separate guidance on the rights of vulnerable groups such as persons with disabilities, detainees, immigrants, indigenous people, minorities and children and stressed the importance of providing protection for these group of people.
In these reports, the UN calls on States to take special measures to protect vulnerable groups that are disproportionately affected by the pandemic including: enhanced social and economic protection measures for those over the age of 80, whose fatality rate is five times the global average,; measures to prevent hatred and stigmatization of older persons, foreigners and LGBTI persons; immediate release of detained children; measures to address increased domestic violence against women, growing burden of domestic work on women and a steep decline in income. The reports also recommend that States comply with the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination when enforcing emergency measures that restrict civil and political rights of individuals.
The international community recognizes that Korea is successfully handling the COVID-19 crisis through the sacrifices of health care personnel, prompt response from central and local governments and a mature sense of citizenship. However, to become a true role model for the international community, it is essential for the government to ensure a comprehensive policy response to COVID-19 that complies with international human rights standards set by the UN and other international organizations, reflects the voices of civil society and provides full protection for socially vulnerable groups.
The NHRCK will acquire and distribute international human rights guidance related to COVID-19 to relevant ministries and civil society organizations to ensure that the recommendations contained in these documents are reflected in the government response and to minimize infringement of human rights during the COVID-19 pandemic.
List of UN guidance on COVID-19 and human rights
1. UN Policy Brief on COVID-19 and Human Rights (23 April)
2. OHCHR COVID-19 Guidance (27 April)
3. CESCR statement on COVID-19 pandemic (17 April)
4. Emergency Measures and COVID-19 Guidance (27 April)
5. Civic Space and COVID-19 Guidance (4 May)
6. UN Guidance Note on Addressing and Countering COVID-19 related Hate Speech (11 May)
7. COVID-19 and the Rights of Persons with Disabilities Guidance (29 April)
8. COVID-19 and the Human Rights of Migrants Guidance (7 April)
9. COVID-19 and Women’s Human Rights Guidance (15 April)
10. Technical Note : COVID-19 Children Deprived of their Liberty (8 April)
11. UN Policy Brief on COVID-19 and Human Rights of Older Persons (1 May)
12. OHCHR News - UN expert urges better protection of older persons facing the highest risk of the COVID-19 pandemic (27 March)
13. COVID-19 : Focus on Persons Deprived of Their Liberty(27 March)
14. COVID-19 and Human Rights of LGBTI People (17 April)
15. COVID-19 and NHRIs in the Asia Pacific (14 April)