Emergencies pose particular challenges to ethical research – yet research is essential for effective emergency response. Complementing human rights approaches, an ‘ethical compass’ of core values provides a basis to allocate responsibilities to a wide range of non-state duty-bearers.
What would constitute a first step in a human-rights based approach to the global allocation of pandemic vaccines? One possibility would be to encourage states parties to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights to acknowledge their indirect obligations of participation and diligence.
The African Commission has emerged as a key voice promoting a continent-wide human rights response to COVID-19, while urging a shift in focus to tackle the massive underlying structural inequalities starkly exposed by the pandemic.