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Each pandemic is different. At the same time, each is also the latest in a long line, which means that there are lessons to be learned from the past, and preparations that can be made for the future.

Human rights are vital to this preparedness. 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/coronavirus pandemic is making clear, a rights-based approach to pandemics is neither secure nor sufficiently clearly articulated, and the same is true of a rights-based approach to other emergencies.

To play a bold and reflective role in developing and promoting a rights-based approach to pandemics and other emergencies, the Global Campus of Human Rights—a consortium of more than 100 universities from across the world—is harnessing its multiregional and multidisciplinary approach, resources and outreach in order to offer a resource of enduring value, GC Human Rights Preparedness.

Our title, Human Rights Preparedness, is a dual invitation: it invites contributors (i) 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, or (ii) to imagine how human rights could be better prepared for such challenges.

We invite all members and friends of the Global Campus network —faculty, researchers, practitioners and experts, institutional partners, alumni and students— to contribute to this important new initiative.

How do we help countries recover from this crisis, and not just economically but in terms of democracy, human rights and the rule of law? The Global Campus with its unique network is ideally placed to gather the experiences of this pandemic, analyse the human rights applications and think ahead.

 

— Eamon Gilmore, EU Special Representative for Human Rights

I welcome GC Human Rights Preparedness, an important new initiative from the Global Campus of Human Rights.

 

— Mary Robinson, Global Campus of Human Rights Honorary President