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Nordic and Baltic countries addresses the human rights implications of COVID-19

Statement by the Nordic-Baltic countries at the informal briefing
by the High Commissioner on Covid-19
9 April 2020
To be delivered by Ambassador Veronika Bard (Sweden)

Madam President,
I have the honour of delivering this statement on behalf of the Nordic-Baltic countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, and my own country Sweden.
We thank the High Commissioner and express our full support for the work carried out by her Office, by Special Procedures mandate holders and by Treaty Bodies.
The COVID-19 pandemic is a test of societies, of governments, of communities, of individuals, and of the UN system. We express our deepest sympathies to all those affected, and we stand in solidarity with all countries and societies concerned.
In this unprecedented situation, it is legitimate for States to adopt extraordinary measures to protect their citizens. But all responses must be in accordance with international law, including full respect for human rights, and should be guided by the principles of non-discrimination, equality, democracy, gender equality, the rule of law and should be limited in time.
We must ensure transparency of actions and equitable and effective responses to tackling both the immediate health crisis and the socio-economic consequences, mindful of our common commitment of leaving no-one behind.
We must also protect human rights defenders, journalists and media workers and the critical work they do to hold us as governments accountable. Any use of emergency powers and tools of surveillance technology to track the spread of COVID-19 must be in line with international law.
For too many women and children, lockdowns and restrictions increase their vulnerability to violence. We strongly support the call of the Secretary-General to make gender equality and the prevention and redress of violence against women a key part of national response plans for COVID-19.
Madam High Commissioner, in your view, what is the major challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic for human rights, gender equality, democracy and the rule of law?
I thank you.