Nepal heatlh workers battle Covid-19 crisis

States and pharmaceutical companies have abandoned their human rights commitments in fight against Covid-19

Livestream event from the 48th UN Human Rights Council takes place on 14 September 2021, from 13:00-14:00 CEST

Amnesty International Secretary General Agnès Callamard available for interviews

States and pharmaceutical companies are continuing to fail to uphold their human rights obligations and responsibilities in the fight against Covid-19, said Amnesty International today, ahead of the 48th UN Human Rights Council, which takes place from 13 September to 8 October 2021.

The organization will host a livestream event on 14 September 2021, bringing together diverse voices from civil society and UN bodies to take stock of the pandemic. Top of the agenda will be how states and pharmaceutical companies have failed to put people’s lives ahead of profit, as well as what can be done to by governments, international organizations, and pharmaceutical companies now to beat Covid-19. Panellists will include high-level representatives from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, who will be hosting the event, said:

“The pandemic has shown time and again how states and pharmaceutical companies have abandoned their human rights obligations and responsibilities in the fight against Covid-19. To compound the devastation wrought by the virus itself, we face the heart-breaking reality that today profit margins and national self-interest trump our most basic right of all – the right to life.

“As the Delta variant rages and cases are on the rise, billions of people in lower income countries have yet to access a vaccine, and tens of thousands are losing their lives to this cruel disease every week. In stark contrast, wealthier countries are vaccinating children and planning broad booster rollouts to the general population. 

“How many more overrun hospitals or patients gasping for breath, desperate for oxygen, in Nepal, India and across parts of Africa and Latin America do we need to see before we say enough is enough? We must stop valuing the lives of some over the lives of others and ensure Covid-19 vaccines are made available to everyone – particularly those in low and lower-income countries where access has been scarce.

How many more overrun hospitals or patients gasping for breath, desperate for oxygen, in Nepal, India and across parts of Africa and Latin America do we need to see before we say enough is enough?

Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International

“It is the human rights obligation of wealthy states to redistribute any surplus doses immediately, while pharmaceutical companies should prioritise deliveries to countries in most need and share their technology and know-how to build resilient and regionally based manufacturing capacity. History will condemn those who failed to put life first. Together with the other panellists, Amnesty International is committed to holding states and companies to account.”

The event will be moderated by Mia Malan, Editor-in-chief and Executive Director of the Bhekisisa Centre for Health Journalism, South Africa.

Panellists will include Agnès Callamard, Secretary General of Amnesty International, high-level representatives from the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Dr Peter Singer, Special Adviser to the Director General of the World Health Organization and Jibin Theerthakkuzhi Chalil, National Working Secretary of United Nurses Association in India.

Notes to editors:

The event will take place on 14 September 2021 from 13:00 – 14:00 CEST (12:00 – 13:00 BST).

To join the session and watch the livestream, please contact [email protected] for details.

Please bear in mind that this will be a virtual and multilingual event held on VoiceBoxer, a web-based platform that allows for remote simultaneous interpretation. The languages of the session will be English, French and Spanish.