ECSS Conference highlights human rights as fundamental to post-coronavirus recovery efforts

ECSS Conference highlights human rights as fundamental to post-coronavirus recovery efforts
With the conclusions of the Conference “Human Rights: Building the Post-Pandemic World” in Cairo completed the work of the International Conference of the Egyptian Center for Strategic Studies.
The Human Rights Day 2020, marked on 10 December, was held under the theme “Recover Better – Stand Up for Human Rights”. The chosen theme, in sync with the Covid-19 pandemic, stressed the importance of looking at human rights from a multi-faceted, comprehensive perspective.

The coronavirus outbreak has uncovered the deeply rooted imbalances that human rights suffer from domestically and globally, which contributed to extending the repercussions of the pandemic. The virus has hit all world countries, striking societies at their core, and threatening them on the health, social, political, and economic fronts. The pandemic has elevated poverty levels and nurtured inequality, discrimination and exclusion. It has also exacerbated decades-long challenges, such as violence and conflict, unemployment, and weak social safety nets. The coronavirus crisis has raised questions about the balance related to human rights, foremost among which are citizens’ lives versus economics, democracy versus authoritarianism, privacy versus censorship, and finally, the relationship between the legitimacy of regimes and their ability to confront the pandemic.

It appears that the world will enter the phase of “recovery” while being exhausted, less wealthy, and more tense, which calls for new global arrangements, es- pecially since the existing ones that emerged after World War II do not seem appropriate to deal with the emerging global dilemmas. This is in addition to what looks like a retreat in the UN role towards contemporary global problems.

It is safe to assume that the world is facing unprecedented challenges; not even when the Spanish flu took the lives of 50 million people. Back then, there was no international organization nor an international human rights structure. Therefore, it seems clear that the world is facing a defining historical moment.

Therefore, the key message of the Human Rights Day focused on ensuring that human rights are fundamental to post-coronavirus recovery efforts, believing in the inability to achieve common global goals without providing equal opportunities for all and addressing inequalities, exclusion, and discrimination. In other words, the message stressed the importance of human rights in rebuilding the world we want to live in and the need for global solidarity and interdependence.

Recommendations:

– The pandemic has revealed the need to put in place “early warning” mechanisms. The World Health Organization (WHO) designated the coronavirus as a pandemic on 11 March 2020, that is nearly four months after its appearance. A long time was lost that could have contributed to saving people’s lives and curbing its spread.

– The coronavirus crisis has urged the necessity of expanding the authority of the WHO, in a manner similar to that of the UN Security Council which is empowered to maintain international peace and security, based on its role in protecting human health. The role of the WHO should be expanded to ring alarm bells, motivate countries to cooperate and share experiences accurately, and encourage the global medical and scientific community to confront the pandemic.

– Emphasizing the need to confront all forms of inequality related to the right to health, foremost among which is fair access to vaccines and various types of treatment.

– The need to provide all forms of support and protection for women against threats to their health.

– Establishing additional protection and care programs for children in poor and marginalized areas to ensure their growth in an appropriate environment.

– The provision of additional support to refugees and migrants during catastrophes, especially healthcare crises.

– The need to consider adopting more flexible, inclusive, and dynamic educational systems to avoid disruptions in times of crises.

– Emphasizing the right to digital transformation and the need to bridge knowledge gaps.

– Mobilizing resources regionally and internationally to stimulate sustainable development efforts that take into account the rights of present and future generations as well as environmental dimensions.

– Discussing a new tripartite social contract between the state, citizens, and civil society with regard to facing exceptional and emergency situations to confront the pandemic.

– Emphasizing the role of soft power as a tool to confront crises facing societies, including health crises.

– Stressing the importance of the role of civil society – a key pillar in a better post-coronavirus world – in promoting human rights, being a multi-dimensional issue. /ibna