As of July 2020, COVID-19 has caused over 600,000 deaths, with 17 million confirmed cases, and counting. The World Health Organization (WHO), the global governance organization charged with providing health for all, declared a pandemic of on March 11, signaling the beginning of the global response to the disease. Despite a commitment to human rights and health, the WHO and others have been virtually silent on how rights and pandemic management go together, and have largely relied on techniques that date back to the 1918 flu epidemic. COVID-19 has made painfully obvious the tension between the protection of public health and the protection of human rights.

In this article for the Journal of Human Rights, authors Wendy Wong and Eileen Wong argue that the “rights-based approach” to health espoused by the WHO needs to be reexamined in light of how public health and human rights may, in times of crisis, work at cross-purposes. The authors examine this idea through an analysis of the WHO’s COVID-19-related publications.

Read the full article here.