Each pandemic is different. At the same time, each is also the latest in a long line, which means there are lessons to be learned from the past, and preparations that can be made for the future.
The Global Campus of Human Rights- the largest consortium of human rights educators with more than 100 universities from across the world - believes that a rights-based approach to pandemics and other emergencies is vital. It is now harnessing its multiregional and multidisciplinary approach, resources and outreach to create a resource that will be a point of reference for a rights-based approach: GC Human Rights Preparedness: www.gchumanrights.org/preparedness
With this initiative we invite our contributors to:
explain the ways in which protecting, respecting and fulfilling human rights, as we understand them today, is vital in meeting the challenges of pandemics and other emergencies;
imagine how human rights could be better prepared for such challenges.
“Human rights are vital to pandemic preparedness and mitigation” , explains Prof. Thérèse Murphy, founding editor of the initiative, chairperson of the European Master’s in Human Rights and Democratisation, and representative of Queen’s University Belfast. “We know this in part because we have learned from the HIV/AIDS pandemic where lives were saved when a rights-based approach replaced the criminalisation, stigma and discrimination of the initial response. However, as the COVID-19 pandemic is making clear, a rights-based approach to pandemics is neither secure nor sufficiently clearly articulated.”
In order to play a bold and reflective role in developing and promoting a rights-based approach to pandemics and other emergencies, GC Human Rights Preparedness will engage in rich, inclusive and wide-ranging conversations. As pointed out by Prof. Kalliope Agapiou-Josephides, GC Council Representative of the University of Cyprus and founding editor of GC Human Rights Preparedness, “Our goal is to advance a rights-based approach to pandemics and other emergencies, ensuring ensuring that existing inequalities, which can be exacerbated in times of crisis, and the risk of disproportionate impact on marginalised or disadvantaged individuals and groups, are integrated from the outset.”
To this end, the initiative has set four objectives:
To share information via open source materials;
To chart and fill knowledge gaps with respect to persistent challenges and best practices;
To compare approaches across regions and disciplines;
To demonstrate the value of the arts, humanities and social sciences as essential companions to the sciences.
“The Human Rights Preparedness initiative [by the Global Campus of Human Rights] is innovative, exciting and essential. The European Union is proud to support it.” Eamon Gilmore, EU Representative for Human Rights.
GC Human Rights Preparednessis curated by an editorial team supported by a multiregional and multidisciplinary group of reviewers and advisors whose knowledge and expertise is best suited to discuss complex issues. In this light, Prof. Veronica Gomez, President of the Global Campus of Human Rights and one of the editors of the initiative, underlines the broader significance of this new endeavour: “We want to build a resource of enduring value that has relevance beyond COVID-19. Our unique regional and multidisciplinary approach provides a formidable asset in tackling multifaceted issues like pandemics.”
GC Human Rights Preparednessis being launched today, 30 June 2020, in all GC regional hubs. We invite all members and friends of the Global Campus network - faculty, researchers, practitioners and experts, institutional partners, alumni, students and the general public - to engage with and contribute to this important new project.