Is COVID-19 proving to be the ‘Achilles’ heel’ of the world’s populist leaders?

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

The rise of populist leaders around the world, with their particularly Orwellian brand of post-truth politics, has been one of the defining geopolitical trends of the past five years. From Trump to Orban, Bolsonaro to Johnson, and Erdogan to Modi, these politicians have seemed to carry all before them. Yet perhaps they have finally met their match in COVID-19? Although …

Protecting the rights of older persons during the COVID-19 pandemic

by Alfonso Barragues, Deputy Director, UNFPA Liaison Office in Geneva Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, By invitation

As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pointed out, the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges the world has faced in our lifetime. It is a human crisis with severe health and economic consequences. That is particularly the case for older persons who face a higher mortality risk, with those over 80 years old dying at five times …

Is COVID-19 forcing America to reconsider its views on ‘fake news’ and freedom of expression?

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Back in February, during a preparatory meeting of the 2020 Glion Human Rights Dialogue at the Permanent Mission of Mexico , one of the most contentious discussion points was how – and indeed whether – States should manage the growing problem of ‘fake news,’ especially online. During the dialogue, a diplomat from South-East Asia presented her government’s pioneering efforts to address ‘fake news’ where it threatens public safety …

The COVID-19 pandemic: Five urgent principles for leaving no one behind through technology

by Lorna McGregor and Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

The UN Secretary General has characterised the pandemic as a ‘public health emergency … an economic crisis. A social crisis. And a human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis’. Other UN agencies predict global mass unemployment and severe food insecurity . If urgent action is not taken, existing structural inequalities will expand and entrench and threaten the protection of human rights and the …

The UN Secretary-General calls for countering a ‘tsunami of hate’ in the wake of COVID-19

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On May 8 the United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres launched a global Appeal to Address and Counter COVID-19 Hate Speech . A few days later, the UN published a Guidance Note on Addressing and Countering COVID-19 related Hate Speech . Both of these follow (and can build upon) steps taken by the UN in response to COVID-19, as well as the 2019 UN Plan of Action on Hate Speech . The SG’s appeal also comes amid an increased awareness of how hate speech and discrimination …

A world made new: Beyond COVID-19 to a low-carbon, resilient and inclusive world

by Dr. Edward Cameron Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

According to her son, Eleanor Roosevelt said the same prayer every night and closed with this wish: ‘save us from ourselves and show us a vision of a world made new.’ This prayer reminds me that in the midst of managing crisis we must also keep one eye on the better future we want to create. COVID-19 is both a …

Is the world really ‘backsliding’ on human rights, and is it getting worse with the Covid-19 pandemic?

by the URG team Blog, Blog, In focus: domestic implementation of universal norms

Even before the outbreak of the current COVID-19 pandemic, commentary on the worldwide human rights situation was characterised, to a large degree, by negative assertions of an unfolding human rights crisis. Powered by influential voices at the UN, as well as by civil society and the media, the general public narrative was often one of backsliding in the world’s major …

Guterres urges governments to put human rights upfront in their response to COVID-19

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

At the end of April UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched an important new report calling for human rights to be placed upfront in guiding the international community’s response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, entitled ‘We are all in this together: human rights and COVID-19 response and recovery,’ pushes the key message that human rights are critical, not just …

UN Secretary-General report puts human rights at centre of COVID-19 response

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, New York City

Today the UN Secretary-General (SG) Antonio Guterres launched a report on how human rights can and should guide coronavirus response and recovery. This report is intended to be read in conjunction with the SG’s Call to Action on Human Rights (launched this February) and the SG’s other reports and statements related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including his report ‘ Shared responsibility, global solidarity: responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 ’, his appeal for governments to …