COVID-19 and Human Rights  book cover
1st Edition

COVID-19 and Human Rights

ISBN 9780367688035
Published June 30, 2021 by Routledge
348 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This timely collection brings together original explorations of the COVID-19 pandemic and its wide-ranging, global effects on human rights.

The contributors argue that a human rights perspective is necessary to understand the pervasive consequences of the crisis, while focusing attention on those being left behind and providing a necessary framework for the effort to 'build back better'. Expert contributors to this volume address interconnections between the COVID-19 crisis and human rights to equality and non-discrimination, including historical responses to pandemics, populism and authoritarianism, and the rights to health, information, water and the environment. Highlighting the dangerous potential for derogations from human rights, authors further scrutinize the human rights compliance of new legislation and policies in relation to issues such as privacy, protection of persons with disabilities, freedom of expression, and access to medicines. Acknowledging the pandemic as a defining moment for human rights, the volume proposes a post-crisis human rights agenda to engage civil society and government at all levels in concrete measures to roll back increasing inequality.

With rich examples, new thinking, and provocative analyses of human rights, COVID-19, pandemics, crises, and inequality, this book will be of key interest to scholars, students, and practitioners in all areas of human rights, global governance, and public health, as well as others who are ready to embark on an exploration of these complex challenges.

Table of Contents

Foreword by Olivier de Schutter

Part 1: Human Rights During Health Crises

1. Human Rights against Human Arbitrariness: Pandemics in a human rights historical perspective

Steven L. B. Jensen

2. Human-rights-based versus Populist Responses to the Pandemic

Martin Scheinin and Helga Molbæk-Steensig

3. Human Rights and Health in Times of Pandemics: Necessity and proportionality

Katharina Ó Cathaoir

4. COVID-19 Risk Communication: The right to information and participation

Tove H. Malloy

Part 2: Vulnerability and Inequality

5. The Human (Rights) Costs of Inequality: Snapshots from a pandemic

Martha F. Davis

6. Racial Justice to the Forefront: Do Black Lives Matter in international law?

Elina Castillo Jimenez

7. COVID-19 and Violence against Women: Unprecedented impacts and suggestions for mitigation

Zarizana Abdul Aziz and Janine Moussa

8. COVID-19 and Disability: A war of two paradigms

Gerard Quinn

9. Life and Death in Prisons

Hope Metcalf

10. Seizing Opportunities to Promote the Protection of the Rights of all Migrants

Ian M. Kysel

Part 3: Cornerstones for Social Cohesion

11. A Paradigm Shift for the Sustainable Development Goals? Human rights and the private sector in the new social contract

Amanda Lyons

12. The Human Right to Food: Lessons learned towards food systems transformation

Ana María Suárez Franco

13. COVID-19 and the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation

Pedi Obani

14. Land Rights in Crisis

Juliana Nnoko-Mewanu

15. How the Pandemic has Impacted the Various Layers of the Global Garment Supply Chain

Sanchita Banejee Saxena, Harpreet Kaur and Salil Tripathi

16. Campaigning for Both Innovation and Equitable Access to COVID-19 Medicines

Brook Baker

17. Is COVID-19 Frustrating or Facilitating Sustainability Transformations? An assessment from a human rights law perspective

Claudia Ituarte-Lima


18. The Post-crisis Human Rights Agenda

Morten Kjaerum

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Morten Kjaerum is Director of Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, Lund, Sweden and Adjunct Professor at the University of Aalborg, Denmark.

Martha F. Davis is University Distinguished Professor at Northeastern University School of Law, USA.

Amanda Lyons is Executive Director of the Human Rights Center at the University of Minnesota Law School, USA.


"This impressive book is indispensable for anyone who wants to understand the COVID-19 crisis from a human rights perspective. Through a comprehensive exploration of the impact of the coronavirus on diverse issues, the authors demonstrate why human rights are indeed an essential compass to guide our reactions and our policy to this unprecedented crisis."

Kathryn Sikkink, Harvard University, USA

"The COVID-19 Pandemic constitutes one of the major contemporary human rights challenges to governments and the international community. The current volume provides compelling insights to how we will be better prepared for similar challenges in the future. Governments had to take far-reaching measures which drastically restricted the rights to personal liberty, to work, to freedom of movement, privacy, property, the right to education and freedom of assembly. In addition, governments had to protect the most vulnerable groups and ensure that the Pandemic did not increase existing social and economic inequalities. After one year of trial and error, we need to admit that neither governments nor the international human rights community were prepared. This book offers ideas and inspiration for how to reach a scientifically sound and balanced human rights-based approach."

Manfred Nowak, Vienna University and Secretary General of the Global Campus of Human Rights, Austria

"The COVID-19 pandemic has provoked unprecedented restrictions to human rights even in democratic regimes and highlighted the obstacles to international cooperation. But it also underscored the crucial importance of protecting the right to health and other social rights to preserve human life and dignity as well as functioning economies and states. This timely book illuminates how pandemics can be fought from a human rights- based approach and what can be done to seize this opportunity to adopt transformative policies to overcome structural inequalities."

Manuel José Cepeda Espinosa, Former President of the Constitutional Court of Colombia

"Amid a flood of scholarly work on the human rights dimensions of the pandemic, this book stands out. Although written as events continue to unfold, the volume is remarkable for the penetrating analyses by leading scholars, which both cover an array of human rights issues, and raise critical, enduring questions regarding gaps not just in compliance but also in normative frameworks. While illuminating the sweeping devastation and upending of progress that the pandemic has wrought, the volume also offers hope that human rights frameworks can and must play a central role in transforming our social and international orders in light of the stark truths this crisis has laid bare."

Alicia Ely Yamin, Harvard Law School, USA