Building Back Better: Placing human rights at the heart of the Covid-19 response in the global South

Joint webinar of the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe and the European Commission Directorate General for International Cooperation and Development.

On 24 June 2020 the UN Human Rights Regional Office for Europe and the European Commission - Development & Cooperation - EuropeAid organised a joint webinar -Building Back Better: How to place human rights at the center of the Covid-19 response in the global South?

Moderated by Ms. Birgit Van Hout, UN Human Rights Regional Representative for Europe in Brussels, the interactive webinar was opened by Mr. Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights and Mr. Mahamane Cisse-Gouro, Chief of the Africa Branch at UN Human Rights headquarters. In their welcome remarks, they noted the importance of multilateralism and the EU-UN partnerships based on shared values, and how the Covid-19 crisis brings opportunity for transformation through people-centered responses based on human rights.  

The main speakers were:
• Ms. Chiara Adamo, Head of Unit, Governance, Democracy, Gender Equality, Human Rights (DEVCO B1), EU Commission
• Ms. Jyoti Sanghera, Chief, Human Rights & Economic and Social Issues Section, UN Human Rights
• Mr. Patrice Vahard, Country Representative, UN Human Rights Guinea

Ms. Chiara Adamo gave an overview on the Team Europe approach and DEVCO’s response to the COVID-19 crisis and in particular the linkages with human rights strengthening globally and in partner countries. She emphasized that only through international cooperation to build a more sustainable and equal world, will we be able to recover from the pandemic and its impacts, leaving no one behind.  

Ms Jyoti Sanghera discussed why and how human rights underpin the UN framework for the socio-economic response to the crisis. She underlined the pandemic and the related economic crisis have unmasked the fragility of our global system at every level. The call to action is to nurse the system back to health by building back better so that it works for everybody, she said, pointing to a range of social and economic measures and macro-economic policies grounded in human rights.

Mr. Patrice Vahard provided insights on how this articulates in Guinea and the importance of considering all human rights in responding to the pandemic. He noted in particular how human rights require States to bridge the humanitarian and recovery phases, based on the recognition that related obligations and entitlements cut across all phases and circumstances, to ensure dignity for all. He gave concrete examples of challenges faced on the ground, including in relation with the right to development, and of the work being done to address them.

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