Statement to the OHCHR workshop on on promoting and protecting economic, social and cultural rights within the context of COVID-19: Session 2

Published on февраля 14, 2023


Session 2: Critical reflection on progress, challenges and the future of economic, social and cultural rights


Action Canada makes this statement on behalf of the Sexual Rights Initiative

The current economic, geopolitical and global health structures reflect colonial power dynamics, and the colonial structures continue shaping racist inequalities in resources, health access and outcomes within and among countries.[1] Capital has fed and thrived on hegemonic patriarchy and the oppression and subjugation of populations through colonialism.[2]      The recent example of the negotiations on the TRIPS  waiver proposal of COVID-19 vaccines or the blocking of HIV treatment and HPV treatment is indicative of the global economic structures, reinforcing Northern countries' and corporations' profits over the lives of people of the Global South.[3] Intellectual property regimes are another legacy of colonialism allied with neoliberal capitalism, and the human rights multilateral system has been reluctant to engage with entrenched structures of racism and colonialism. There is ample evidence to highlight the specific gendered impact of these systems, showing exacerbated consequences.


The rising inequalities, made even starker due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, are a symptom of the failed economic system that prioritises profit over people and impoverishes people. It is very important to look at the impact of the erosion of public systems through privatisation and financialisation and resulting human rights violations and abuses. In particular, to delve deeper into why public health systems were woefully inadequate to deal with the Pandemic.


Greater accountability for international financial institutions and transnational corporations to adhere to the human rights framework is imperative  In this context, the impacts of austerity measures and fiscal consolidation, often as a condition of loans/aid, on the human rights and fundamental freedoms of the poor, particularly the marginalised must not be ignored. How can meaningful reparations as a precondition for recovery from COVID be ensured?


[1] See joint submission by Sexual Rights Initiative, National Council of Women Leaders (NCWL), the Dalit Human Rights Defenders Network (DHRDNet), the International Dalit Solidarity Network (IDSN), AWID, Her Rights Initiative (HRI) and Alisa Lombard to the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination: Racial Discrimination and the Right to Health; 

[2] See joint statement by Sexual Rights Initiative, Al-Haq, IWRAW Asia-Pacific, ILGA and AWID at HRC 51,