Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Statement on the Covid-19 Pandemic and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Statement by the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights*
- The Covid-19 pandemic is threatening to overwhelm public health care systems, and is having devastating impacts across the world on all spheres of life – the economy, social security, education, and food production. Tens of thousands of lives have already been lost, including those of doctors and nurses providing frontline medical treatment. Jobs have been lost and livelihoods imperilled due to restrictions to curb the transmission of the virus such as ‘lockdowns’. Schools are closed in many affected countries, and people cannot gather for significant cultural and community events such as religious services, weddings or funerals. At the commencement of this statement, the Committee extends its sympathy to all victims of the pandemic and their families as well as the broader communities of which they are part.
- The pandemic has deep negative impacts on the enjoyment of economic, social and cultural rights (‘ESCRs’), especially the right to health of the most vulnerable groups. As elaborated below, States are under an obligation to take measures to prevent, or at least to mitigate, these impacts. However, if States do not act with within a human rights framework, a clear risk exists that the measures taken might violate ESCRs and increase the suffering of the most marginalized groups. No one should be left behind in taking the measures necessary to combat this pandemic. These circumstances have led the Committee to issue this statement to highlight the most important impacts of this pandemic on ESCRs and to make some recommendations to States to combat the COVID-19 pandemic in a manner consistent with their obligations under the Covenant.
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