A call for comprehensive human rights redress

Publish Date: 
Tuesday, April 21, 2020
Strategic Litigation Working Group Response to the COVID-19 Crisis

As human rights violations underscored and worsened by the coronavirus pandemic reverberate around the world, the realization of environmental, economic, social, and cultural rights (ESCR) provides the path forward for any lawful and effective response. ESCR-Net’s Strategic Litigation Working Group (SLWG) members are promoting justice and the effective implementation of human rights. Comprising organizations and defenders from around the world, many SLWG members are asking domestic and international justice mechanisms to reckon with state and private actor responses to the pandemic that reinforce chronic human rights problems or do not adequately rise to the challenges posed by long standing policies enabling systemic inequalities and impoverishment. The situation demands comprehensive human rights redress. At a time when many other forms of protest, social organizing, and civic life are curtailed, litigation and legal advocacy may not only be the last resort; they may be the only one.

Accordingly, the SLWG members urge justice mechanisms—including domestic courts and justice officials; international and regional human rights forums and special procedures; and National Human Rights Institutions, gender commissions, ombudspersons offices, and other “fourth branch” institutions—to:

  1. suo moto monitor violations due to state and private actor responses to the COVID pandemic and issue concrete reparations measures, including systemic guarantees of non-repetition and the full realization of human rights;
  2. act with a view to prioritizing the needs of those persons and collectives most vulnerable to human rights harms flowing directly or indirectly from the pandemic, in line with an intersectional analysis promoting substantive equality;
  3. remain accessible, including by increasing flexible procedures, such as dispensing with notary requirements, utilizing e-filing, issuing online judgements, and hosting remote sessions, while maintaining certain offline functioning or provision of resources to avoid digital exclusion; and
  4. make use of emergency injunctive-type relief such as precautionary, provisional, interim, and similar measures for human rights matters, including in relation to urgent ESCR claims.

Read the full analysis here:
A call for comprehensive human rights redress