Human Rights Council
21 June–9 July 2021
Agenda items 2 and 10
Annual report of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights and reports of the Office of the High Commissioner and the Secretary-General
Technical assistance and capacity-building
The central role of the State during pandemics and other health emergencies is to mount a robust health response while upholding human rights. This involves respecting, protecting and fulfilling economic, social and cultural rights, paying particular attention to universal health coverage and universal social protection as fixed pillars in all response, preparedness and recovery efforts. At the same time, it also requires upholding civil and political rights such as the rights to participate in public affairs, freedom of expression and freedom of association.
The resilience of health systems and national economies has been undermined, to a great extent, by the failure to adequately invest in meeting human rights obligations. States should step up investment in health and social protection systems backed by multilateral, joined-up approaches based on solidarity. These steps require renewed political will and leadership to honour the commitments made by States under human rights law and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
1 . In its resolution 44/2, the Human Rights Council requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, working within existing efforts across the United Nations system, and in consultation with States, to conduct a needs assessment, in particular for developing countries, to support their efforts to promote and protect human rights and fundamental freedoms in responding to pandemics and other health emergencies, and the socioeconomic consequences thereof, in advancing sustainable development and the realization of all human rights. The Council also requested the High Commissioner to submit a report thereon to the Council at its forty-seventh session.
2 . For the preparation of the report, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) invited stakeholders, including Member States, United Nations agencies, national human rights institutions and civil society organizations, to submit contributions. The information received indicates the need for urgent human rights interventions across numerous areas. For the purposes of the present report, the assessment of needs has focused on economic, social and cultural rights; good governance; protecting the right to health; data collection; people on the margins; equality and non-discrimination; and human rights in health emergency preparedness, response and recovery.