Item 2: Joint statement - Interactive Dialogue on High Commissioners report on State response to pandemics


Human Rights Council 47th Session – Item 2: Interactive Dialogue on  High Commissioners report on State response to pandemics – 21 June 2021 – Nordic-Baltic Intervention by
– H.E. Ambassador Katrin Saarsalu-Layachi, Estonia


Madame President,

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden and my own country Estonia.

We thank the High Commissioner for her report on State responses to pandemics that once again very clearly manifests the need to step up our efforts in ensuring human rights for all.

We are concerned to see that despite the many calls to remain vigilant and not allow responding to the pandemic at a prize of weakening democracy, the respect of rule of law and human rights, the pandemic has been used as a pretext by some for shrinking democratic and civil society space.

Disproportionate measures to fight the pandemic have hit hard against many societies and especially those in vulnerable circumstances, including women and children. It is worrying that the attacks on media freedom and independence of the judiciary have been on a rise, leaving governments to act without almost no oversight and no opportunity to hold them to account.

This crisis is still far from over. We therefore need to learn our lessons and to ensure that human rights are at the center of our actions. We fully support the High Commissioners call to ensure accountability for human rights violations and abuses, including sexual- and gender-based violence, and access to effective, gender-transformative judicial and other remedies.

The Nordic and Baltic countries believe that to build back better we need a transformative change, with the key words being empowerment, participation and democracy. A crisis should never be used as an excuse for undue restrictions on democracy or violations of human rights.

I thank you!