Press Release

IACHR adopts Resolution on Pandemic and Human Rights in the Americas

April 10, 2020

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)  adopted Resolution No. 01/20  Pandemic and Human Rights in the Americas today. The IACHR decided to draft this resolution in response to the unprecedented global health emergency facing the Americas and the world, caused by the rapid global spread of the COVID-19 virus, declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO). The Resolution has been made under the conviction that the measures adopted by the States in the care and containment of the virus must be centered on full respect for human rights.

This resolution is a comprehensive approach by the Commission to the situation of the pandemic, which includes the standards of the Inter-American Human Rights System and a set of recommendations to the States of the region to address the COVID-19 from a human rights perspective. In effect, the IACHR issues these recommendations as the principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), with the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights and in exercise of Article 106 of the OAS Charter, Article 41.b of the American Convention on Human Rights and Article 18.b of its Statute.

The Resolution is one of the main outcomes of the Rapid and Integrated Response Coordination Unit for the COVID-19 pandemic (SACROI COVID-19), installed on March 27, 2020. It calls on OAS Member States to immediately and transversally adopt a human rights-based approach in any strategy, policy, or state measure aimed at addressing the COVID-19 pandemic and its consequences, including plans for social and economic recovery, which must be in accordance with unrestricted respect for Inter-American and international human rights standards, particularly the ESCR; ensuring the functioning of the State's public powers. Likewise, the Resolution states that measures that result in restrictions of rights or guarantees must conform to the "pro persona" principles of proportionality and temporality, and must ensure strict compliance with public health and comprehensive protection objectives.

It is important to highlight that a special section of the recommendations refers to groups in particular situations of vulnerability such as the elderly persons, persons deprived of liberty, women, indigenous peoples, persons in situations of human mobility, children and adolescents, LGBTI persons, afro-descendants persons and persons with disabilities. In this regard, the Commission stresses that when adopting emergency and containment measures in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the States of the region must provide and apply intersectional perspectives and pay special attention to the needs and differentiated impact of such measures on the human rights of groups that have historically been discriminated against or are particularly vulnerable.

"With this Resolution we want to contribute, from our mandate, to the efforts being made by governments and society to protect the human rights of all people. We understand that COVID-19 is presented differently in each country and we observe that the responses have also been different. In any case and by their own nature, State actions must be focused on people. All government action must be taken to guarantee and protect human rights," said Commissioner Joel Hernández, President of the IACHR.

On his part, Paulo Abrão, Executive Secretary of the IACHR, emphasized: "This document is an essential contribution of the IACHR, from its SACROI COVID-19, where it is at the disposition of the States to continue cooperating technically in the defense of human rights in the hemisphere".

A principal, autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for and to defend human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 073/20