The EU and its Member States welcome today’s panel discussion on good governance in the promotion and protection of human rights during and after the COVID-19 pandemic, and thank the organizers for the preparation of this timely initiative.
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has posed many challenges to the full realization of human rights. The right to life and the right to health have been threatened by the virus. Temporary emergency measures limiting individuals’ freedom of movement also had to be put in place as part of the response to the spread of the deadly disease. Access to basic public services has been limited, which has affected jobs, livelihoods and family life.
Good governance is crucial for striking a proper balance when using emergency measures to protect the rights to life and health in a way that ensures compliance with international human rights law, including the principles of lawfulness, legitimacy, necessity and proportionality. It is essential in ensuring an adequate response to economic devastation caused by the pandemic.
The use of new technologies has played an important role in the fight against COVID-19. It has allowed governments to collect an enormous amount of data that have been used to track the spread of virus and to prepare and apply proper responses to it. Lockdowns and social distancing have precipitated the digitalization of many public services, which in a number of cases has increased efficiency of governance and accessibility of public services. Many of these changes are here to stay. At the same time widespread use of new technologies comes with substantial risks such as: mass surveillance, breaches of right to privacy or disinformation and misinformation. It is important to take advantage of opportunities given by new technologies while minimising the risks their misuse may pose to the enjoyment of human rights.
EU believes that in times of crisis, such as COVID-19 pandemic, good governance is more important than ever. Only through good governance can States ensure that human rights are at the core of the battle against COVID-19.