48th Human Rights Council Reports

Report on Inequalities


September 28, 2021: Half-Day Panel Discussion on Deepening Inequalities Exacerbated by the Covid-19 Pandemic.

All sources used to draft the report can be found here. Report drafted by Marc Enzo Belligoi Gomis on September 29th, 2021.

Composition of the HRC

Panel Discussion

Madame Vice-President Monique T.G. Van Daalen opened the Half-Day Panel Discussion on Deepening Inequalities Exacerbated by the Covid-19 Pandemic on the 28th of September at 15:10pm.

Ms. Michelle Bachelet, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, started her statement by addressing the magnitude and scope of the inequalities created and exacerbated by Covid 19 and the effects of the pandemic on human rights around the globe. Ms. Bachelet stated that extreme poverty and food insecurity have risen and that vital gains on human rights are being reversed, including equality rights for women and rights of many ethnic and religious communities. The High Commissioner also stated that efforts to ensure equality for all are undercut by chronic underfunding of public services and that the pandemic has exposed failures of states upholding their commitments to human rights. Ms. Bachelet emphasized two lessons learned from the pandemic, the first is the fundamental need to embed human rights in all policies, and the second lesson is necessity to promote joint international action and to promote solidarity in the distribution of vaccines and health materials. Finally, the High Commissioner stated that her office will continue to work to maximize partnerships across the UN system to help in the recovery efforts from the pandemic.

Mr. Joseph Stiglitz stated that Covid 19 has exposed and exacerbated the grave inequalities within and between our society. As Mr. Stiglitz emphasized, Covid 19 has not been an equal opportunity virus, it has gone after those with vulnerabilities such as lower income individuals, and it has affected their jobs, health, education, among others, while those on the top have been able to carry on. As he stated, the global economy will not recover until the virus is controlled, and this will not happen until everyone in the world has access to the vaccine. Therefore, Mr. Stiglitz called for vaccine solidarity and for the end of artificial barriers in the distribution of the vaccines and for a waiver on the intellectual property rights of pharmaceutical companies, allowing countries around the world to produce the vaccine. Finally, Mr. Stiglitz also stated that many countries have become over indebted due to Covid 19 and that there should be an international effort to help those countries recover.

Madame Vice-President Monique T.G. Van Daalen called on Ms. Gunilla von Hall to moderate the panel discussion with Mr. Gordon Brown, Ms. Tlaleng Mofokeng, and Ms. Magdalena Sepulveda.

Mr. Gordon Brown, as ambassador for Global Health Financing, congratulated the High Commissioner for the celebration of the panel discussion, and began his statement by stating that climate change, extreme poverty, the blatant abuses of human rights in Afghanistan, and Covid 19, are huge challenges to human rights. Mr. Brown stated that vaccine inequality and health spending inequalities, observed when comparing developed and developing countries, entail that people are being denied their human rights. Mr. Brown also conveyed that the absence of vaccines is making African countries and other low-income countries, the epicenters of Covid 19, and emphasized that health is not only a human right, but that combating infectious diseases is a global public good. Finally, Mr. Brown called for coordinated multilateral efforts and stated that covid has reminded us that no one is safe anywhere until everyone is safe everywhere.

Ms. Tlaleng Mofokeng expressed that after two years of pandemic, it is clear now that the impact of Covid 19 has been determined by structural and socioeconomic factors. Ms. Mofokeng stated that millions of people have been in crisis long before the pandemic and Covid 19 has exacerbated those inequalities and become a greater burden to those countries and communities with lower incomes. Ms. Mofokeng reminded the council that 90 percent of Africans are still waiting for their first dose, and that the right for health is a human right, and about the effects of Covid 19 on the SDGs. Finally, Ms. Mofokeng ended her statement by criticizing states and businesses alike who are taking decisions that violate human rights and called for international solidarity and cooperation.

Ms. Magdalena Sepulveda stated that human rights are not only a set of values, but obligations which states have committed to guarantee. Ms. Sepulveda expressed that the weakness of public education systems has exacerbated society's vulnerabilities to Covid 19 and has aggravated inequalities among people. Ms. Sepulveda addressed the Council to 1) Increase investment in public services. 2) To treat care as a collective good. 3) Abandon vaccine nationalisms. 4) To implement progressive taxation and robust measures to put a tax rate on corporations. 5) Adopt climate friendly recovery policies. 6) To respect human rights when implementing Covid 19 responses. Finally, Ms. Sepulveda called for the need for a political will to reinforce human rights around the globe.


The EU stressed the importance of human rights in shaping the responses to the Covid 19 pandemic and called for a human rights-based approach to sustainable development. The EU also stated that the pandemic should not be used as an excuse to implement measures that violate human rights. Finally, the EU informed the Council that it had exported half of its production of vaccines to 130 countries and called for international cooperation to fight the pandemic.

Cameroon, on behalf of the group of African States, stated that Covid 19 has magnified inequalities across the globe and imposed itself in the international community. Therefore, Cameroon called for international cooperation and for universal access to the vaccine.

Finland, on behalf of the Nord Baltic Countries, stressed the urgent need to revitalize efforts towards the SDGs and reiterated its support to COVAX and for equitable access to the vaccines. Finland also expressed concern to the situation of human rights, in particular due to sexual and gender-based violence, and concern due to the rights of human rights defenders, journalists, and civil society.

Bahrain, on behalf of the Gulf Cooperation Council, expressed concern for the consequences of the Covid 19 crisis and for the increase of inequalities around the globe. Bahrain called for the need for international cooperation and stated that the Gulf Cooperation Council countries have given priority to health services and for fair vaccination campaigns.

Mauritius, on behalf of a group of countries, stressed the negative impacts of Covid 19, such as the increase of external debt for developing countries or the slow and staggered access to vaccines. Mauritius also expressed gratitude to those countries which have provided them with vaccines.

Ecuador, on behalf of Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Perú, Uruguay, thanked the panelists for their contributions and stated that developing countries have had difficulties vaccinating their vulnerable communities and citizens. Ecuador also called for the need to give a stronger role to women in the planning and decision making for the recovery efforts after the pandemic.

Azerbaijan, on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, expressed concern for the impact of Covid 19 in the enjoyment of human rights around the world. Azerbaijan also called for debt relief and appropriate measures for financing developing countries in the response to the crisis.

Egypt, on behalf of the group of Arab States, stated that Covid 19 is no longer only a health crisis, but now it has become multidimensional. Egypt also expressed concern for the unequal distribution of vaccines and stated that only collective immunity will allow us to return to normal life without the pandemic threat on global security.

Iran, on behalf of a group of countries, criticized the vaccine inequality and the lack of access to medical equipment for developing countries. Iran stated that unilateral measures adversely affects the population of developing countries and called for all states to stop taking coercive economic measures against other countries.

China, behalf of a group of countries, expressed concern for the different variants of the Covid 19 virus and stated that the vaccines are a powerful tool to combat the pandemic. Therefore, China expressed its support to the UN call for a fair and equitable distribution of the vaccines and called upon member states to support the waiver of the intellectual property rights of the covid vaccines.

Qatar stated the shared international responsibility to tackle the pandemic and that Qatar has participated and supports international efforts to fight Covid 19. Qatar also detailed national policies to vaccinate and to provide healthcare to all segments of society

Indonesia called for the end of vaccine nationalisms and stockpiling and for international pressure to stop such practices. Indonesia also expressed support for the waiver of the intellectual property rights for the vaccine and for the need to create economic resilience in developing countries to help them recover from the pandemic.

Azerbaijan stated that, as a member of the NAM, it has implemented global solidarity initiatives to help respond to the Covid 19 pandemic globally, as well as donated 150.000 vaccines to other countries. Azerbaijan also criticized vaccine nationalisms and called for the need for a strong and cohesive response to the crisis.

Iraq stated that Covid 19 has exacerbated inequalities between individuals and deprived people from access to essential services. Covid 19 also has threatened efforts towards the SDG, such as access to drinking water, education, and healthcare.

Bangladesh called for the end of vaccine inequality and vaccine nationalisms. Bangladesh also stated that Covid 19 has curbed the progress towards achieving the SDGs and has created a digital divide that has jeopardized opportunities for millions of students around the world.

Mauritania commended the speakers for their interventions and stated that the pandemic has weakened a world which already has been weakened by socioeconomic disparities. Mauritania also detailed national measures taken to mitigate the impact of the pandemic and stressed that debt is a heavy burden for developing countries.

Ecuador stated that the right to health is essential and called for international cooperation and enhanced solidarity. Ecuador also expressed its support to international initiatives to tackle the pandemic such as COVAX.

Montenegro stated that vaccines have so far failed to become a global public good and that the pandemic has caused setbacks for the achievement of the SDGs and the 2030 Agenda.

South Africa aligned itself with the statement made by the African Group. South Africa expressed concern for the fact that inequality has reached crisis proportions around the world and for the vaccine gap between developed and developing countries. South Africa also called for the waiver of the intellectual property rights for the vaccine.

Ghana aligned itself with the statement made by the African Group. Ghana stated that Covid 19 has disrupted important progress in the implementation of the SDG and has widened the technological gap between countries.

Morocco expressed regret for the unequal distribution of vaccines and called for the need for equal access to education and technological resources for children. Morocco also stated that it has shown solidarity with its neighbors and detailed its campaigns to vaccinate the population of the country.

Saudi Arabia detailed national measures taken to fight Covid 19 in the country and stated that they have been able to reduce socioeconomic impacts of the virus.

Malaysia stated that Covid 19 has evolved into a health and socioeconomic crisis of unpreceded impact. Malaysia also detailed national measures taken to combat the virus and to vaccinate the population of the country.

Nepal stated that Covid 19 has disproportionately impacted the lives of vulnerable people around the world. The pandemic has also increased unemployment rates, especially for women, widened the technological gap between countries, and jeopardized the achievement of the SDGs. Nepal also called for making the vaccine into a global public good.

The written statements by non-governmental speakers can be found here.


Cultural Diversity and Sustainable Development for Peace