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MRG shares key lessons on state responses to the pandemic

21 June 2021

Oral statement delivered by Samrawit Gougsa at the UN Human Rights Council’s interactive dialogue on the report of the high commissioner on the central role of the state in responding to pandemics and other health emergencies, and the socioeconomic consequences thereof (HRC res. 44/2), 47th session, 21 June 2021

Thank you Chair,

Madam High Commissioner,

Next week we publish our annual report, highlighting lessons learnt from Covid-19 for minorities and indigenous peoples. Our findings echo those in your excellent report.

Marginalised communities have been at greater risk of infection and death from Covid-19. The impacts of this crisis extend far beyond immediate health outcomes, to everything from employment and education to housing and well-being.

Crucially, much of the inequity and discrimination that the pandemic surfaced was systemically endemic long before the outbreak – and is likely to remain without transformative societal change.

We emphasise three key lessons from the pandemic to inspire state responses:

  • First, states need to ensure the right to health for all irrespective of status, including full and equitable access to prevention, treatment and care, as a priority during the pandemic and recovery;
  • Second, states need to ensure that decent work, labour rights and adequate welfare assistance are central to any public health strategy, protecting those whose livelihoods are most at risk;
  • And third, governments must employ participatory rights based public health strategies not those that repress and control.

I thank you.

Watch the statement video: