The Necessity of Human Rights as the Foundation for Covid-19 Response and Recovery - Op-ed of the UN Moldova Resident Coordinator

The Covid-19 is not simply a public health crisis, the impact of the pandemic has been felt on every portion of the society and on every aspect of the nation’s social and economic life.

Simon Springett, UN Moldova Resident Coordinator

The pandemic has severely tested the national health care system, from infrastructure to human resources, but even more it has tested our collective ability to work together as a community, a nation, and a multilateral system.

There is not one person in the Republic of Moldova who has not been impacted, however, everyone has been affected differently due to age, ethnicity, gender, occupation, and social status. Every person faced limitations of their human rights during the pandemic – the right to freedom of movement, the right to education, and the right to work to mention a few. Yet, marginalized groups, who were already vulnerable to human rights violations prior to COVID-19, have become even more vulnerable, facing exacerbated difficulties in accessing their right to health, right to social protection, and right to participation among others. We have witnessed how the virus’ impacts discriminate, the rise of hate speech or the targeting of vulnerable groups - unveiling the fragilities of our systems.

People and their rights must be put at the core of our COVID-19 response and recovery actions.

In September 2020, the United Nations Country Team has presented the updated joint UN Moldova – Government of the Republic of Moldova COVID-19 Socio-Economic Response and Recovery Plan. Based on five strategic pillars, it offers immediate and long-term support to the country to respond and recover from the COVID-19 in line with its development priorities. The Plan includes 99 projects and actions aiming at protecting the needs and human rights of people living under the effects of the pandemic, with a particular focus on the most vulnerable and marginalized groups and persons who risk being left behind.

In support of the COVID-19 response we must understand that the sustainability of results of interventions made, depends to a large extent on the employment of the human rights based approach.  In this context the COVID-19 is giving us the opportunity to consider once again the benefits that the human rights based approach to policies, programme planning, and programme delivery can provide in addressing vulnerabilities that some marginalized people have. The approach which puts human beings, with their needs, choices and preferences at the centre of any intervention can contribute to preventing further exacerbations of vulnerabilities. It gives us the possibility to contribute to repairing the harm the pandemic has brought and to recover better through the development of more resilient systems.

COVID-19 has brought to the surface deeply rooted and sometimes overlooked inequalities.

We need to ensure that draft public policies undergo an inequality analysis, that persons affected by respective policies are consulted and have an opportunity to participate in respective decision-making process, and that mechanisms are put in place to hold duty bearers to account.

We need to ensure that human rights based social protection measures represent a critical tool for facilitating access to health care, protecting people against poverty, and ensuring the satisfaction of basic economic and social rights.

More than ever, we need to join our efforts and work coordinately at all levels and sectors to ensure that no one group, or individual is left behind during the response to the Covid-19 crisis and planning of the post Covid-19 recovery.

We are all in this together and only together can we succeed in overpassing the pandemic and build a sustainable future compliant with fundamental human rights.

Author: Simon Springett, UN Moldova Resident Coordinator

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