COVID-19, challenges to human rights and danger of widening social divisions

CoE/Secretary General

In online remarks to the sixth annual Delphi Economic Forum today, the Council of Europe’s Secretary General stressed the “proactive approach” taken by the Council of Europe to meet human rights challenges associated with COVID19.

As 11 May 2021 marked the 10th anniversary of the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence, better known as the Istanbul Convention, Marija Pejčinović Burić called for more support for the treaty, given the “sad reality” that domestic abuse has increased with confinement and other forms of COVID19 travel restrictions.

In financial downturns complicated by the pandemic, “there always lurks the danger of widening social divisions”, so the Secretary General highlighted the European Social Charter as “the load star that guides member states” to address this danger. The Secretary General last month made proposals to reinforce the European Social Charter system. “What we need is a renewed political commitment to the social and economic rights enshrined in the Charter”.

Among action taken to meet human rights challenges from the pandemic, she explained how the Council of Europe’s Venice Commission has spelled out human rights principles, conditions and guarantees that should be maintained in any state of emergency.

She also recalled that the Council of Europe Development Bank has invested over €3billion in COVID-related emergency projects and issued Social Inclusion Bonds to help fund mitigation of the pandemic’s social and economic effects.

Secretary General speech


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