World Health Day: the IACHR publishes Resolution on pandemic and vaccines in the Americas

April 7, 2021

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Resolution No. 01/21

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Washington, D.C. - On the same date as World Health Day, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) publishes the Resolution No. 01/21 COVID-19 Vaccines within the framework of inter-American human rights obligations. The IACHR decided to draft this Resolution under the auspices of the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights (REDESCA) and with the support of the Office of the Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Expression (RELE), within the framework of its Rapid and Integrated Response Coordination Unit for the COVID-19 pandemic crisis (SACROI COVID-19).

The Resolution responds to the urgency to ensure rapid immunization throughout the Americas, as well as for States to put public health and human rights at the center of their decisions and policies on vaccines against COVID-19. To this end, it establishes criteria and recommendations for the States, in order to promote the fair and equitable distribution of vaccines, as well as to ensure that all processes of production, acquisition, distribution and administration of COVID-19 vaccines are from a human rights perspective, taking international obligations as the main reference, and in particular, the applicable legal framework of the inter-American human rights system.

With this Resolution, the Commission is aware that, a year after the outbreak of the pandemic, the immunization of an important number of the world population is crucial to control the pandemic, and at the same time, facing a new set of challenges, including: new strains of the virus, global competition for limited dose supply or public skepticism about vaccines. Along these lines, it is imperative that vaccines, as a global and regional public good, are available to all people, with equality and without discrimination, which is why their fair and equitable distribution must be ensured and, in particular, that they are accessible and affordable for low- and middle-income countries. Equity must be the key component not only between countries, but also within countries in order to end the acute phase of the pandemic.

The recommendations contained in this resolution are intended to help the States, as the main guarantors of human rights and as responsible for their promotion, protection, and in turn, other relevant actors in the present context, such as international organizations and companies, assume the scope of their international obligations in the context of decisions on the entire vaccination process, in order to guarantee rights, especially the rights to health and life. Along these lines, the Resolution provides specific recommendations based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination, human dignity, informed consent, access to information, transparency, fight against corruption, cooperation and international solidarity.

The Resolution addresses the main areas of regional and global concern regarding COVID-19 vaccines, making specific recommendations around six major themes, namely: a) distribution and prioritization of vaccine doses; b) active dissemination of adequate and sufficient information on vaccines and counteract misinformation; Right to free, prior and informed consent; c) right of access to information, transparency and fight against corruption; d) business and human rights in relation to COVID-19 vaccines; and, f) International cooperation.

"With this Resolution, the IACHR seeks to support the efforts of the American States to eradicate the virus throughout the region. All people must have access to vaccines without discrimination, prioritizing the inoculation of people with the highest risk of contagion and who experience a greater risk in the face of the pandemic". Likewise, affirmed: "The recommendations contained in the resolution are a tool for States to generate the appropriate mechanisms to guarantee vaccines, especially to populations in a greater situation of vulnerability or historical discrimination," said Antonia Urrejola, president of the IACHR. .

"This Resolution is based on the fact that vaccines against COVID-19 are a global and regional public good. Therefore, it establishes that intellectual property regimes must cease to be an obstacle that prevents the production of safe and effective vaccines to guarantee access universal and equitable to them, calling on States and companies to cooperate in this direction ". In the same sense, he indicated: "Nationalism and health isolationism must be avoided, ensuring that vaccines reach low and middle income countries and, in particular, people living in poverty and extreme poverty. It is urgent to coordinate effective regional actions based on international solidarity ", highlighted Soledad García Muñoz, Special Rapporteur for Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights.

"The Resolution published today completes the set of recommendations developed by the IACHR in the context of the pandemic, within the framework of the SACROI COVID19. We call for the rapid implementation of the recommendations contained in the Resolution and we remain at the full disposal of the States and civil society of the Americas to promote it", said María Claudia Pulido, Acting Executive Secretary of the Commission.

The IACHR is a principal and autonomous body of the Organization of American States (OAS), whose mandate arises from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has the mandate to promote the observance and defense of human rights in the region and acts as an advisory body to the OAS on this matter. The IACHR is made up of seven independent members who are elected by the OAS General Assembly in their personal capacity, and do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 087/21