CHR Endorses Call for Human Rights-Based Approach to COVID-19
May 20, 2020
The Committee on Human Rights (CHR) of the U.S. National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine fully endorses the Call for a Human Rights-Based Approach to COVID-19, issued by the Executive Committee of the International Human Rights Network of Academies and Scholarly Societies (IHRN).
For nearly half a century, the CHR has provided assistance to colleagues persecuted as a result of their professional activities and their exercise of other internationally protected rights. The global scale of the human rights crackdown that we are currently witnessing in response to COVID-19 is unprecedented in the committee's history. Increasingly, overbroad and open-ended emergency powers are being used to threaten disfavored individuals and groups and to punish peaceful forms of dissent. Many of our colleagues–including scientists and health professionals—have experienced retaliation for providing information to the public about COVID-19 that runs counter to official narratives. Efforts to avoid transparency and accountability in connection with the pandemic, and to silence critical voices, present a grave threat to public health. Such efforts are also incompatible with fundamental human rights, which are not lost during emergencies.
The CHR has recently completed a web-based resource, Confronting Rights Abuse: A Guide for Supporting Scientists, Engineers, and Health Professionals Under Threat, to help empower colleagues who find themselves the target of governmental abuse. The need for such support has become even more pronounced in recent months. We hope that our guide will be shared widely and urge the global scientific, engineering, and medical communities to speak out against the widespread violations of human rights occurring in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.