UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Thursday renewed his call on governments to make human rights the “front and centre” of their response to the COVID-19 crisis.
Guterres made the call in a message to mark this year’s International Human Rights Day.
He said the pandemic was undermining human rights, by “providing a pretext for heavy-handed security responses and repressive measures that curtail civic space and media freedom”.
According to him, an effective response to the pandemic must be based on solidarity and cooperation.
“Divisive approaches, authoritarianism and nationalism make no sense against a global threat.
“People and their rights must be front and centre of response and recovery.
“We need universal, rights-based frameworks like health coverage for all, to beat this pandemic and protect us for the future,” he said.
In a similar message, U.S. Secretary of State Michael Pompeo underscored the importance of human rights protection to peace and security.
“History demonstrates that governance that respects human rights and upholds the dignity of all human beings makes the world a safer and more prosperous place.
“But history also teaches that human rights must always be vigilantly protected,” Pompeo said.
He said the U.S. remained committed to standing with those fighting for their rights, while urging all nations to safeguard the human rights “we all cherish”.