European NHRIs collaborate and exchange in addressing COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic is having a significant impact on the enjoyment of human rights. In the weeks after stringent public health measures came into place across Europe, ENNHRI held a series of web meetings bringing together National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and partner organisations to address challenges to promoting and protecting human rights brought on by the crisis, as well as to exchange and share practices.
Over five web meetings, participants discussed a range of human rights issues covering asylum and migration, economic and social rights, democracy and the rule of law, the rights of people with disabilities the rights of older people, and human rights in (post-)conflict situations.
NHRI staff members from over 20 institutions across Europe actively participated, along with representatives from partner organisations such as GANHRI, Equinet, OHCHR, ODIHR, AGE Europe, and the European Disability Forum, among others.
The meetings helped NHRIs to:
- Find solutions to address the impacts of COVID-19 on human rights, including the disproportionate affects that restrictions on freedoms have on vulnerable groups
- Address the challenges they face in fulfilling their mandate during the pandemic and its associated public health measures
- Exchange with peers and seek solutions to how NHRIs can adapt their work
- Share tools and good practices that can support NHRIs’ work and propose further collaboration with regional actors
Participants identified a need to ensure strong protection of human rights during the pandemic through ongoing collaboration. For example, some NHRIs highlighted the need for continued exchange on ways to conduct human rights monitoring safely during the pandemic, such as monitoring the rights of migrants at borders and people in closed facilities. Also, following the meetings, NHRIs jointly advocated for the EU’s economic response to COVID-19 to be grounded in economic and social rights.
Members operating in (post-)conflict situations discussed the need for continued exchanges among NHRIs, capacity building in emergency situations and stronger support from regional and international stakeholders.
ENNHRI is committed to helping strengthen its members’ work in addressing human rights issues, especially in challenging times like these. Follow-up meetings have been arranged to continue the exchanges as the pandemic develops.