This year, International Human Rights Day comes within the context of the 75th anniversary of the UN Charter and the COVID-19 pandemic. While Franciscans International, along with other civil society actors and States, would have taken stock at what the UN has accomplished over the past decades, including in regards to the pillar of human rights, the pandemic has undoubtedly forced us all to take a more honest look at the state of the world.
Our network of Franciscan and other partners on the ground have continued to convey both the extraordinary situations they are facing, as well as their efforts to support their communities. FI documented some of this in our April statements on the pandemic. At the time, we underscored that COVID-19 has served as a magnifying glass on structural human rights issues, which while present for decades and even centuries, could no longer be “managed” or hidden by governments. Inequalities in and between states, including with regards to human rights such as access to clean water and health care, were exposed and exacerbated. At the same time, many States failed to fully consider how such inequalities had been generated and preserved, and continued to prioritize business interests over the short and long-term health and safety of their citizens. This included rollbacks on environmental legislation and some states that deemed mining as an ‘essential’ activity.
On this International Human Rights Day, Franciscans International calls on States to heed the call of the UN to “recover better.” States must consider their obligations under the UN Charter, including their duty to respect, protect, and fulfill human rights. This must include consideration of how climate change has and will continue to impact human rights, so that any recovery is not only effectual but also sustainable.
FI’s previous statements on COVID-19 and human rights can be found here: