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Key Resource Materials From The United Nations Treaty Body Mechanisms, Special Procedures Mandate Holders And Agencies Concerning COVID-19 And Human Rights

  • 6 May 2020
  • Author: Agnes Nzembi
  • Number of views: 1468
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United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Statement on the coronavirus disease pandemic and economic, social and cultural rights.

The Committee elaborates on the impacts of the pandemic on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights and makes recommendations to States on measures to be taken to ensure the respect, protection and fulfilment of economic, social and cultural rights.

Economic, social and cultural rights




United Nations Sub-Committee on the Prevention of Torture

Advisory to State Parties of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment and National Preventive Mechanisms relating to the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The advisory provides recommendation on how States are to handle persons deprived of liberty and those placed in mandatory quarantine. It is important to note that the Committee has opined that quarantine is a form of deprivation of liberty and therefore all persons in quarantine should benefit from the fundamental legal safeguards of against ill-treatment.

Civil and Political Rights

Prevention of Torture in places of detention, the role of national prevention mechanisms and legal safeguards in quarantine facilities.



Committee on the Rights of the Child

Statement of the Committee on the Rights of the Child on COVID-19.

The Committee has made recommendations on measures that can be taken to enhance the respect for the rights of the child in tackling health threat posed by COVID-19.

Group Rights

Protection of children during COVID-19 pandemic




Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General on Disability and Accessibility.

Persons with Disabilities and COVID-19

The joint statement addresses the impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities and makes a raft of recommendations on measures to be taken to protect the rights of persons with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic

Group Rights

Protection of rights of persons with disabilities during COVID-19 pandemic




Joint Statement of Special Mandate Holders- led by Special Rapporteur on the right to development.

‘Leave no one behind- Don’t forget your commitments in your response to the COVID-19 crises’

Key message is to ensure that measures taken to address COVID-9 should not exacerbate already existing inequalities in societies. In addition the special rapporteurs call on meaningful participation of all segments of society in decision making processes concerning COVID-19.

Economic, social and cultural rights and Group Rights

Addressing existing inequalities in access to resources during COVD-19 pandemic. Participation of all segments of societies in decision making



United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary and Arbitrary Killings

COVID-19 Human Rights Dispatch No 1- Police and Military Use of Force in State of Emergency. The human rights dispatch provides guidance on the use of force by law enforcement personnel in the time of COVID-19 emergency

Civil and Political Rights

Use of force by law enforcement, and state of emergency




Joint statement by special procedure mandate holders

States should not abuse emergency measures to suppress human rights.

The special mandate holders recognised that whilst international law allows use of emergency powers by States to respond to significant threats including on public health, the measures must be proportionate, necessary and non-discriminatory.


Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

Enjoyment of rights during state of public health emergency



Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Guidance on Emergency Measures and COVID-19

The guidance acknowledges that States will take extra-ordinary measures in protecting the health and well-being of the population. However, these measures must be in line with international human rights standards. 

The guidance note further recognises that emergency powers should be used within the parameters provided by international human rights law particularly the international covenant on civil and political rights.

Restriction on exercise of rights must meet the requirements of proportionality, legality, necessity and be non-discriminatory.



Civil and Political Rights and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights


Protection of human rights during state of emergency




Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Aid Memoire to National Human Rights Institutions

The memoire acknowledges the role that National Human Rights Institutions have been playing in responding to COVID-19 pandemic. The memoire encourages national human rights institutions to integrate their mandate and activities with national plans towards addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact.

National Human Rights Institutions



Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the World Health Organizations

Interim Guidance

COVID-19: Focus on Persons Deprived of Their Liberty

The Guidance note shares key messages around detention facilities including the need for national human rights institutions to continue to access and monitor places of detention

Civil and Political Rights

Rights of persons deprived of their liberty



United Nations Secretary General

Brief on COVID 19 and human rights: We are all in this together

The brief shared six key human rights messages that are key to ensuring a human rights based approach to the pandemic. The six messages are: (i) protecting people’s lives is a priority; protecting livelihoods helps us do it; (ii) Non-discrimination- the virus does not discriminate bit its impacts do; (iii) Participation- involve everyone in your response; (iv) the threat is the virus not the people- emergence and security measures if needed must be temporary, proportional and aimed at protecting people; (v) No country can beat this alone; (vi) when we recover, we must be better that we were before- the crisis has revealed weaknesses that human rights can help to fix.

Participation, Equality and Non-Discrimination; Right to Health



The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS

Rights in the time of COVID-19: Lesson from HIV for an effective, community led response.

Drawing from lessons in tackling HIV/AIDS, the joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS guide provides guidance on how to tackle COVID-19 pandemic using a human rights based approach. Key messages are drawn from the rights based approach have been unpacked around the following themes: Participation; Equality and Non-Discrimination; Respect for Human Rights and Oversight and Accountability.


Participation; Equality and Non-Discrimination; Respect for Human Rights and Oversight and Accountability.


























United Nations Secretary General

Policy brief on the impact of COVID-19 on women

The Policy brief notes that the COVID_19 pandemic has devastating social and economic consequences for women and girls. The brief emphasizes three cross-cutting priorities to address the impacts of COVID-19 on women and girls. These are:

  1. Ensuring equal representation of women in COVID-19 response planning and decision making
  2. Addressing the care economy both paid and unpaid
  3. Apply gender lens in design of programmes to address social and economic impact of COVID-19

Rights of women





United Nations Human Rights Committee


Statement on derogations from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Committee reminds State Parties that any restrictions to the enjoyment of rights under the ICCPR must be done in line with article 4 of the ICCPR and as explained by the Committee in General Comment No. 29 of 2001 on state of emergency.



Civil and Political Rights

Derogation of rights under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights during COVID-19 pandemic




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