International statements on coronavirus and children’s rights


Global and international human rights organisations have released several policy documents around respecting, protecting and fulfilling children’s rights during the coronavirus pandemic.

Some of these documents are collected below.

Committee on the Rights of the Child: The effects of coronavirus on children

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The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child is the body set up by the UN to monitor the progress that States make in keeping their human rights promises under the UNCRC. It’s made up of 18 independent experts on children’s rights from different countries.

This short statement from the Committee on the Rights of the Child warns of the grave physical, emotional and psychological effects of the coronavirus pandemic on children, and highlights particular ways in which States can protect their rights.

UN policy brief on the impact of coronavirus on children

The UN has produced a brief highlighting many of the ways in which the coronavirus pandemic will impact children around the world.

UN Secretary General calls for greater protection for children

UN Secretary General António Guterres has called on leaders at all levels to provide greater protection for children from coronavirus and the socio-economic costs that result from it.

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: Treaty bodies call for human rights approach in fighting coronavirus

All ten Human Rights Treaty Bodies of the United Nations – including the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child – have urged global leaders to ensure that human rights are respected in government measures to tackle the public health threat posed by the pandemic.

UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights: Coronavirus and special procedures

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Special procedures are independent human rights experts who report to the United Nations. They each report to the UN on a specific topic or country.

For example, the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty is a special procedure who reports on extreme poverty and the actions States must take to prevent it.

Special procedures are doing a lot of different things during the coronavirus pandemic in order to stress a human rights approach to the crisis. These are collected on the website of the Office of the High Commissioner.

Statement from the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR)

The CESCR statement on coronavirus calls on global leaders to:

  • work in solidarity through international financial institutions to relieve the financial burden of coronavirus on developing countries,
  • safeguard jobs and wages,
  • secure food and medical supplies for the most vulnerable.

Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights: Learning from the pandemic to better fulfil the right to health

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The Council of Europe has an important role in protecting the human rights of hundreds of millions of people, including children and young people. But a lot of those people don’t really know what it is.

It often gets confused with the European Union, but it’s a completely different institution. 47 States across Europe are Member States of the Council of Europe, including States inside and outside of the EU.

The UK, which Scotland is a part of, is a Member State of the Council of Europe. This means it follows the European Convention on Human RightsThis is a law that enshrines certain rights and freedoms in all 47 Member States, including the UK. It applies to everyone in these States, including children and young people.

The Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights has drawn lessons from the coronavirus pandemic around what a healthcare system that respects the human right to health should look like.

Upholding the rights of people deprived of their liberty

People of all ages have rights when deprived of their liberty, and these don’t go away during challenging times. Protections against torture and inhuman or degrading treatment are absolute.

The Council of Europe has released a statement affirming absolute human rights protections for people deprived of their liberty.

The United Nations Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture has produced detailed advice on how governments should protect the rights of those deprived of their liberty during the pandemic.

Work by ENOC, the European Network of Ombudspersons for Children

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ENOC is a network which includes Children’s Commissioners and Children’s Ombudspersons, all of who promote and protect children’s rights as laid out in the UNCRC. There are representatives from 34 member countries who come together to share information and strategies.

As a member of the Network we take part in an annual programme that includes seminars, an annual conference, position papers and participation.

As a member of ENOC, our office has been sharing their communications around the coronavirus pandemic.

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