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Thursday December 02, 2021

Pandemic undermines human rights worldwide, says UN

December 11, 2020

NEW YORK: The head of the United Nations is urging the world to put human rights “front and center” in the coronavirus recovery efforts in order to achieve a better future for its citizens, foreign media reported.

In a televised address issued Thursday on the annual observance of International Human Rights Day, Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a “disproportionate impact on vulnerable groups” including frontline workers, the elderly, disabled, women and girls, and minorities.

The virus “has thrived because poverty, inequality, discrimination, the destruction of our natural environment and other human rights failures, have created enormous fragilities in our societies,” Guterres said, while simultaneously providing leaders with a pretext to impose “heavy-handed security responses and repressive measures that curtail civic space and media freedom.”

In a speech delivered Wednesday in Geneva, UN human rights commissioner Michelle Bachelet said the failure of many countries to take the virus seriously and to act quickly enough to prevent its spread has undermined a range of human rights issues around the world, including economic, civil and political rights.

“Politicising a pandemic in this way is beyond irresponsible – it is utterly reprehensible,” Bachelet said. “Scientific evidence and processes have been discounted, and conspiracy theories and disinformation have been sown and allowed – or encouraged – to thrive.”