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26 November 2020

Human rights at the heart of the recovery

The COVID-19 pandemic has hit societies at their core. All parts of our societies have been hurt - medically, socially, politically, economically - revealing new and exacerbating existing vulnerabilities that pose a serious threat of leaving even more people behind.

Poverty, inequalities, discrimination, exclusion, environmental degradation have fuelled the human tragedy that the world has seen unfold. These and other gaps in human rights protection have collided with entrenched political, social and economic crises around the world, making societies more vulnerable to the coronavirus.

As numerous countries around the globe have entered their second wave of the pandemic, it has become abundantly clear that, once the crisis over, we simply cannot go back to how the world was before. From this shared tragedy comes an opportunity: for humanity to build back better, we must put human rights at the heart of the recovery.

The pandemic has reminded us all of a simple truth: a world that fully respects the human rights of all is a world better prepared to deal with and recover from all crises.

To recover better means strengthening our commitment to human rights and to achieving the goals set out in the Sustainable Development Agenda. It means fixing inequalities within and among countries; creating universal health and social protection systems; addressing environmental degradation; strengthening institutions; and tackling structural human rights violations, which have fed the spread and severity of COVID-19. It means urgently addressing the climate emergency and creating a world that is just, inclusive, and equal – and therefore more resilient and prepared to meet future crises.

The phrase “We are all in this together” is now more relevant than before. From individuals to Governments, from civil society and grassroot communities to the private sector, everyone has a role in building a post-COVID world that is better for present and future generations. We either stand together, or fall apart. And with human rights at the heart of the COVID-19 response, we will recover, better.

UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, strongly believes that, “Working together, we can recover better. With strong solidarity, we can build a world that is more resilient, sustainable and just.”

On Human Rights Day, 10 December, let us heed her call and stand up, together, for human rights. Let us imagine a new world, a better world where the visionary values of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights have led us all closer to recovery.

That could be our reality.

  • I will respect your rights regardless of who you are. I will uphold your rights even when I disagree with you
  • When anyone’s human rights are denied, everyone's rights are undermined, so I will stand up
  • I will raise my voice. I will take action. I will use my rights to stand up for your rights.

people have stood up for human rights

We can all be Human Rights Champions

Tweet, Instagram or YouTube your action using the hashtag #Standup4humanrights.

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