ICJ calls on States to ensure human rights compliant access to COVID-19 vaccines (UN Statement)

The ICJ today addressed the UN Human Rights Council in the General Debate on the Report of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights on the impact of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic on the enjoyment of human rights around the world, including good practices and areas of concern.

The statement reads as follows:

Madam High Commissioner,

The ICJ welcomes your important report on the impact of COVID-19 on human rights.

We consider that an additional critical issue is the importance of access to justice in the realization of all rights, and, particularly, State failures in ensuring human rights compliant access to COVID-19 vaccines.

For instance, Tanzania, Burundi, Eritrea and Madagascar have failed even to attempt to acquire vaccines, and South Africa not yet begun to roll them out to the general population. Zimbabwe has failed to communicate vaccine acquisition and roll out plans.

In Colombia there is an alarming increase of killings and death threats against human rights defenders in some municipalities which could create barriers in accessing the COVID-19 vaccine.

The ICJ is concerned that Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica reportedly intend to inhibit access to vaccines to undocumented non-citizens, in violation of their obligation of non-discrimination.

Finally, many States continue to fall short of their international cooperation and assistance obligations by not endorsing the WHO’s COVID-19 Technology Access Pool, and South Africa and India’s waiver proposal to the WTO’s Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights Council.

The ICJ calls on the Human Rights Council to remind States of their duty to ensure effective access to justice for violations of human rights, including the right to health.

I thank you”



Massimo Frigo, ICJ UN Representative, e: massimo.frigo(a)icj.org, t: +41797499949

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