Recover better

The COVID-19 crisis has been fuelled by poverty, inequalities, discrimination, exclusion, environmental degradation, and other gaps in human rights protection. It collided with entrenched, political, social and economic crises around the world, making our societies more vulnerable to the virus.

Only measures to close these gaps and advance human rights can ensure we fully recover and build a better world.

Recover Better means:

Ending discrimination of any kind

Structural discrimination and racism have fuelled the COVID-19 crisis. Equality and non-discrimination are core requirements for a post-COVID world.

  • While the virus may not discriminate, its impacts do. And discrimination kills. People who are poor, marginalized, excluded and discriminated against are more likely to get sick, not access testing, and more likely to suffer loss of jobs, housing and other fundamental rights.
  • If anyone is at risk, excluded from healthcare or protection, everyone is at risk.
  • People who were already in vulnerable situations, whose voices had been silenced and whose interests are more rarely served by the political and economic processes in their societies, are those who are worst harmed by the health, economic and social impacts of COVID 19. This includes poor people, who are more likely to live and work in conditions that make it impossible to shield from the virus; members of racial, ethnic, linguistic or religious minorities, whose rights are already obstructed and denied by structural racism; migrants and refugees; indigenous peoples; older people, LGBTQI people and people living with disabilities.
  • All too often, the burden of caring for the sick – and the job-losses linked to the COVID-19 recession, including in the informal economy – are being borne by women. In addition, girls facing school closures not only are at heightened risk of dropping out of education – they may also face early and forced marriage or the risk of trafficking. Women have also been victims of a surge in domestic violence and experienced reduced access to sexual and reproductive health services, including for maternal care.

    We must stand against discrimination of any kind. We must push back against the wave of discrimination, racism and xenophobia that COVID-19 has further aggravated and which feeds on misinformation and fear. Social inclusion promotes stable societies.

Addressing inequalities

To recover from the crisis, we must also address the inequality pandemic. For that, we need to promote and protect economic, social, and cultural rights. We need a new social contract for a new era.

  • The pandemic is accompanied by devastating and planet-wide social and economic impacts, which both exacerbate and feed from pervasive inequalities within and among countries.
  • An effective response must address inequalities, focus on those in vulnerable situations in order to leave no one behind, and work to reduce and ultimately eliminate environmental harms such as climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution.
  • Fulfilling all human rights, including economic, social and cultural rights, the right to development, and the right to a healthy environment, reduces disproportionate impacts on the poor and marginalized, who are among those worst impacted by both COVID-19 and environmental harm.
  • Never before has the responsibility of governments to protect people, by guaranteeing their economic, social and cultural rights, been so clearly demonstrated.
  • To save both lives and livelihoods, it is time to invest in universal health care and universal social protection – prioritizing the most vulnerable. Investment in economic and social rights yield resilience and foster more just, equal and sustainable societies.
  • For the time necessary, measures such as cash transfers and employment guarantee schemes must be put in place to protect human rights of those in the informal sector and ensure a life of dignity.
  • Debt standstill and relief can help countries meet their obligations regarding right to health, food, water and sanitation, housing, education and especially to finance universal health coverage and universal social protection.
  • Even in times of crisis, governments still need to provide people with the minimum essential they need to live in dignity -- health, food, water and sanitation, education and housing.

Encouraging participation and solidarity

We are all in this together. From individuals to governments, from civil society and grass-roots communities to the private sector, everyone has a role in building a post-COVID world that is better for present and future generations. We need to ensure the voices of the most affected and vulnerable inform the recovery efforts.

  • The only way to build back better is through individual, global and multilateral solidarity. We either stand together, or fall apart. We must leave no one behind. No person, no community, no country.
  • All voices matter. People have a right to participate in the decisions affecting their lives. To be effective, responses must recognise and engage with all, including vulnerable populations, and the new generation.
  • We need to ensure that the voices of those most affected, marginalized and vulnerable reach policymakers and societies at large and inform the recovery efforts.
  • People speaking up cannot be silenced. Human rights defenders, medical professionals and experts, and journalists must have a safe space to share information, give critical feedback and voice their views. A vibrant civil society is essential to building back better.
  • In their recovery efforts, governments need to be open and transparent, responsive and accountable to the people they are seeking to protect. Full, inclusive and meaningful participation is essential for building and maintaining trust. Without the active participation and representation of all sectors of society, measures will perpetuate exclusion, discrimination and inequality.
  • The fallout caused by COVID-19 is massive, global and potentially long lasting. Recovery towards a better future must be grounded in fulfilling human rights, reviving global solidarity and safeguarding the health of the planet – for present and future generations.
  • We are all navigating new challenges, in uncharted territory. In times of crisis we need cooperation and sound principles to guide our path and we also need to identify new approaches. Just as individuals are made more vulnerable to COVID-19 by comorbidities, many underlying human rights gaps and failings generate greater vulnerabilities for entire societies and regions. Together, by standing up for each other’s human rights, we can build back better.

Promoting sustainable Development

We need sustainable development for people and planet. Human rights, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement are the cornerstone of a recovery that leaves no one behind.

  • The recovery must protect and benefit the most vulnerable while advancing efforts to fulfil human rights of all, achieve the 2030 Agenda, and address the climate emergency.
  • Building back better and more sustainably requires a rights-based approach to the COVID-19 recovery
  • The response to the crisis presents an opportunity to support improved social protection measures, and a just transition to a sustainable, no-carbon economy founded on renewable energy, environmentally sound technology, sustainable resource use, community empowerment and livelihoods of dignity.
  • The rights of all people to benefit from science and its applications must also be safeguarded ensuring that solutions to global problems, like a vaccine for COVID-19 or environmentally sound technologies, are equitably shared by all.
  • Environmental degradation is one of the most pressing and serious threats to the ability of present and future generations to enjoy the right to life. The COVID-19 response should respect, protect and fulfil the right to a healthy environment.
  • Development must benefit people and planet and its benefits must be equitably distributed.

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