IBON International submitted the following intervention at the interactive dialogue on the High Commissioner’s oral update on state response to pandemics at the 50th Regular Session of the United Nations Human Rights Council last June 13, 2022. IBON International highlighted that states should go beyond neoliberal policy norms to uphold people’s rights and welfare in pandemic responses.
As the UN Human Rights Council holds a dialogue on State responses to pandemics, IBON International highlights the importance of transforming international economic and governance norms to prioritise public health and welfare.
Decades of neoliberal policies have privatised healthcare and gutted social protection systems. Women’s underpaid and unpaid labour have merely filled in the gaps in social infrastructure. Intellectual property rules that allow a corporate monopoly over technologies have made COVID-19 vaccines inaccessible to the global South.
We are concerned that international policy norms still encourage states to tread the neoliberal path. We need to go beyond debt-driven pandemic responses, market-based climate solutions, and the current corporate-centric recovery that promotes private finance-first in development. We have the opportunity to protect people’s rights by ending the privatisation of public services, regressive taxation and austerity, and the blanket liberalisation of investments.
As the pandemic overlaps with the war in Ukraine, defending people’s rights from the health crisis, rising militarism, and soaring food and oil prices should be prioritised.
Finally, we need to ensure that public health and welfare are built from economies that uphold people’s rights and sovereignty. People’s participation and leadership in governance are instead crucial to address inequalities, and create peace based on social justice in the long-term. #