51st Human Rights Council Reports

Rights of Indigenous Peoples


SR on right to development - 9th Meeting, 51st Regular Session of Human Rights Council, September 2022.

Mister President, distinguished delegates, representatives of civil society, fellow Rapporteurs, ladies and gentlemen, today, I have the honor to introduce my annual thematic report, in which I examine the response to and recovery from the coronavirus disease (COVID 19) pandemic from the perspective of the right to development, primarily at the national level.

Special Rapporteur

To collect information about the extent to which rights-holders have been included in decision-making processes related to the elaboration of COVID-19 response and recovery plans and policies, the Guidelines and recommendations on the practical implementation of the right to development presented to the Human Rights Council at its forty-second session underscore the centrality of the meaningful participation of rights holders in economic, social, cultural and political development and state that governments should widen the civic space to allow the democratic and significant involvement of all stakeholders in multilateral processes.

Extensive documentation shows that the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the most significant global economic crisis in more than a century, leading to a dramatic increase in inequality within and across countries. The economic impacts of the pandemic have been especially severe in emerging economies. More than 50 per cent of households in emerging and advanced economies could not sustain basic consumption for more than three months in the face of income losses. Global poverty is estimated to have increased for the first time in a generation. Women, in particular, were affected by income and employment losses because they were more likely to be employed in sectors more affected by lockdowns and social distancing measures. Among businesses, smaller firms, informal businesses, and enterprises with limited access to formal credit suffered bigger income losses. Micro-, small- and medium sized enterprises are overrepresented in the sectors most severely affected by the crisis, such as accommodation, food services, retail, and personal services. Studies also suggest that recovery from the crisis will be uneven, with emerging economies and the poor needing much more time to recover pandemic-induced losses in terms of income and livelihoods. In this context, some governments introduced cuts in public sector expenditures, and many low income countries resorted to taking on increasing levels of debt from private lenders. However, such loans have high borrowing costs for developing countries.

The pandemic also exacerbated pre-existing structural barriers to accessing adequate health care, including sexual and reproductive health care in the area. Large-scale income loss combined with precarious social protection systems paved the way for severe economic hardships, asset losses, food insecurity, hunger, and rising poverty, all affecting women. In addition, the pace of the recovery in employment has been slower for women than men, contributing to a growing gender employment gap globally.

Further, among the groups disproportionately affected by the pandemic are persons with disabilities. Numerous factors contribute to this situation: pre-existing health conditions make them more susceptible to contracting the virus and experiencing more severe symptoms, persons with disabilities who are dependent on support for their daily living often were isolated from caretakers during lockdown measures, those living in institutions were affected with the highest rates of infections and deaths, access to testing and health-care services was impeded, information about prevention measures and later vaccines was not accessible in formats and contents accessible to all persons with disabilities. Yet, when reviewing COVID-19 response and recovery plans, there is little evidence that persons with disabilities are included in the discussions and decision-making processes.

The impact of the pandemic on indigenous peoples and minorities raises further concerns. Among the identified concerns were poor access to health care, significantly higher rates of communicable and non-communicable diseases, and lack of access to essential services, sanitation, and other key prevention measures. In the report, it is estimated that COVID-19 response and recovery plans are, ultimately, development plans. That as such, they should be in line with the right to development and the commitments Governments made when elaborating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, most importantly, the promise to leave no one behind. To achieve that goal, Governments and decision-makers must not resort to measures and policies that may reinforce or exacerbate existing vulnerabilities.


Republic of Lithuania, on behalf of Nordic-Baltic countries

The right to development is rooted in the universality, indivisibility, interrelation, and interdependence of all human rights. The impacts of the pandemic are further exacerbated by the current food and energy crises, as well as by climate change. And of course, nothing violates the right to development so directly and devastatingly as outright military aggression. These crises are likely to further increase poverty, and inequalities, which hit people and countries in vulnerable situations the hardest.

It is critical that recovery plans and policies put emphasis on individuals as central actors, drivers, and beneficiaries of development processes and include the most vulnerable.


The EU reiterates its support for a human rights based approach to sustainable development. Individuals are right-holders as well as the central actors, drivers, and beneficiaries of the development process. The EU has been at the forefront of international efforts to curb the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has brought unprecedented challenges to human rights and democracy, exacerbates inequalities, and challenges the overall realization of sustainable development worldwide.

Ivory Cost on Behalf of the African Group

The African Group supports the assertion of the Special Rapporteur that COVID-19 responses, recovery plans, and the realization of the right to development are mutually

applicable and inextricably linked to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Agenda in the 2030 horizon.

In this context, the Group would like to stress the need for a genuine commitment from the international community to work together to close the existing gap in terms of inequalities, for the realization of the right to development for all.

State of Palestine on behalf of the Arab group

The Arab Group notes that the global pandemic has had a strong negative impact on all countries, especially developing countries, which increases the difficulties in achieving the right to development, and stresses in this context the need for recovery plans to be in line with the sustainable development agenda and to be based on practical guidelines and recommendations for the implementation of the right to development.

In this regard, the Arab countries have adopted many legislations, plans, and programs in which they saw progress according to many indicators related to achieving the sustainable development goals.


The human rights dimension, including the right to development, was at the heart of the response and recovery plans of the Egyptian government, and they also adopted an integrated plan to mitigate the economic and social effects of the pandemic, which included strengthening health care and expanding social protection networks for the most needy and caring groups, such as women. The Egyptian government also provided medical treatment to refugees and asylum seekers on an equal basis with Egyptians and included them in various national health initiatives.

Sierra leone

As detailed in the Special Rapporteur's report, the economic crisis occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a sharp increase in inequality within and across borders. The impact has been acute in developing countries, with women-led businesses being disproportionately affected as well. In light of the outbreak, Sierra Leone set up a COVID-19 Relief Fund to provide support to persons and communities seriously affected by the COVID

19 pandemic. In addition, taxes on essential commodities were reduced drastically, and cash transfers were made to industries that suffered a loss of revenue because of the pandemic. The delegation calls on States and stakeholders alike to respect, protect, and fulfill the right to development through global and regional partnerships.


France and its European partners are strongly committed to dealing with the pandemic. France was the first country to donate vaccines through the COVAX Fair Allocation Mechanism and made 120 million doses available to partners. The EU was the world's largest supplier of vaccines, exporting half of its production and by delivering, to date, 400 million of

our own stocks to all continents, 90% through the COVAX mechanism. France is convinced that to be effective and fair, the recovery policy implemented by States following the Covid 19 pandemic must be based on respect for and promotion of all human rights. In this sense, it reiterates its support for a development policy based on human rights. One cannot work without the other.


The delegation takes note of the contributions of Member States and other stakeholders on examples of good practices, in particular the participatory practices of integrating the right to development into national recovery plans and policies, as well as the difficulties to be overcome.

For its part, Djibouti considers that the achievement of the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals requires a reinforced implementation of the commitments of international agreements for the realization of a responsible effective right to development.


India has introduced an array of initiatives and focused interventions to mitigate the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic with a view towards protecting the lives and livelihoods of people.

India launched a comprehensive economic package under "Aatmanirbhar Bharat" or Self-reliant India to combat the impact of the pandemic and to revive socio-economic growth. A financial package of USD 366 billion was deployed to create employment opportunities for workers of the unorganized sector, strengthening the MSME Sector, and for promoting the rural economy.

Under the Vaccine Maitri initiative, India supplied over 235 million total supplies of COVID-19 vaccines to 99 countries of the world and two UN entities. India remains committed to the implementation of the Right to Development and will continue to support the activities of the Special Rapporteur on the Right to Development.


Luxembourg defends the principle of the universality, indivisibility, and inalienability of human rights. Implementing a human rights-based approach to development, which integrates all human rights, is a necessary condition for achieving inclusive and sustainable development. Since 2009, Luxembourg has exceeded the target of devoting 1% of its gross national product to official development assistance. Human rights are a cross-cutting priority of its cooperation programs.


Cuba had to face the global challenges imposed by the Covid-19 pandemic, the aggravation of the structural vulnerabilities of small island developing states, but also an extreme intensification of the economic war and blockade imposed by the government of the United States. Despite all the obstacles, Cuba was the first country in Latin America to produce three vaccines and two vaccine candidates against Covid-19. It is essential to take advantage

of the many painful experiences left by the pandemic and promote international cooperation and solidarity as a fundamental human right. Cuba will continue defending those noble objectives.


The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that the protection of human rights and development are interrelated and cannot be divided, that their protection and promotion requires programs and policies based on equality and non-discrimination against women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, and minorities, and that they require the best use of available resources, directing them to the realization of human rights. The achievement of economic, social, and cultural rights today is more urgent, due to the negative effects of the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Iraq has taken concrete measures to enhance the economic and social rights to rebuild by adopting public policies based on human rights, by strengthening policies related to social protection, health and education, by promoting the right to adequate housing and the right to food, and by reducing poverty.


Germany aligns itself with the EU statement. The full enjoyment of human rights by all lies at the core of lasting peace and prosperity. By safeguarding human rights, states also contribute to the sustainable development of their societies. Germany is supporting countries in their development endeavors. In consequence, Germany supported ACT-A with 3.3 billion EUR since its foundation in 2020, being the 2nd biggest donor worldwide. Germany is also actively working on the issue of vaccine justice and has therefore provided 530 Million Euro to help build vaccine production facilities in Rwanda, South Africa, Senegal, and Ghana.


Over the last few decades, the Maldives saw rapid and sustained development which has enabled us to graduate from LDC status to an upper middle-income country. The backbone of its development success has been the tourism sector. While the country is determined to strengthen its tourism industry, they are also exploring ways to develop agriculture and fishing to diversify the economy and ensure greater national development. The Government of Maldives strongly believes in the right to development for all its people. To protect and realize our right to development, it is imperative that we address the triple crises of the environment namely climate change, pollution, and biodiversity loss.


The delegation recognizes that the realization of the right to development requires adherence to international human rights standards and principles, including those related to non-discrimination and fundamental freedoms, as well as enabling individuals and groups to determine their own development goals and to achieve them in their own appropriate ways. In conclusion, they affirm with full support the efforts being made to develop a binding international instrument to implement the Declaration on the Right to Development, which will inevitably contribute to strengthening international development efforts and achieving sustainable development goals.


As humanity struggles to recover from the deep, unprecedented, and multiple crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, solidarity, political will, and cooperation are needed more than ever to overcome this crisis together. The pandemic has exposed and exacerbated inequalities within and between countries. COVID-19 requires a commitment to the precepts of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which urges all human beings to act with one another in a spirit of solidarity. They reiterate the resolution entitled "Comprehensive and Coordinated Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic", in which States are strongly urged to refrain from promulgating and unilaterally applying economic, financial, or commercial measures that prevent the full achievement of economic and social development, particularly in developing countries.


It is a core principle of VietNam that the national COVID-19 response and the recovery plans address existing vulnerabilities, leave no one behind, and align with development priorities of the communities. VietNam has acted swiftly and aggressively by strengthening public health capacity and social protection networks. In addition to fiscal support packages, other policies and solutions to support businesses, especially small and medium enterprises, were undertaken. Furthermore, VietNam has carried out the largest vaccination program in history in which Covid-19 vaccines were provided free of charge in accordance with WHO's recommended list of priority groups.


The delegation supports the thesis of the Special Rapporteur that development is not only the result of economic growth, but also requires an accompanying policy of redistribution, for without one, it leads to social inequality. From the very beginning of the coronavirus pandemic, the Russian Government took immediate measures to support socially vulnerable groups of the population, primarily the elderly, families with children, and the unemployed, which ensured a sustainable and effective overcoming of this epidemiological crisis


Namibia aligns herself with the statements delivered on behalf of the African Group and the Non-Aligned-Movement. Namibia has adopted various measures to ease the pandemic's devastating effects which includes, amongst others, introducing the Build Back Better Programme with development partners to advance a human security approach. This project focuses on agriculture and food security through public and private partnerships and was launched by the Ministry of Agriculture in partnership with UNDP and Japan. Namibia also introduced a wage package for persons who lost jobs due to the pandemic and given the impact of the pandemic on education, the Government introduced special modalities to ensure that education in the country continued with minimum interruption.

Food and Agriculture Organization

FAO recognizes the importance of investments in the agrifood sector and socio economic recovery measures, enhancing social protection and protecting consumers' access to affordable, adequate food. COVID-19 has devastated communities and economies, putting human rights at risk, increasing hunger and poverty, and exacerbating inequalities and the

gender gap. Conflict and climate change have a compounded impact. Targeted support can help ensure inclusivity, free and meaningful participation, and universal development gains. Inclusive rural communities are essential to advancing sustainable development. FAO is committed to making agrifood systems more inclusive, resilient, efficient, and sustainable, leveraging the application of knowledge, technology, innovation, data, governance, and human rights, to reduce poverty, eliminate hunger, and improve the well-being of all, leaving no one behind.


According to the Chinese delegation, all countries should put the promotion of development and the protection of people's livelihood in a prominent position in macro policies. President Xi Jinping proposed the global development initiative, which is based precisely on the hope that all countries will work together to overcome the impact of the epidemic on global development, achieve stronger, greener, and healthier global development, and build a global development community. China is willing to work with all parties to build a global development partnership of solidarity, equality, balance, and universal benefits, so that no country or person will be left behind.

China regrets to note that some countries such as the United States have failed to fight the epidemic on their own, but they used the epidemic to place blame, stigmatized the epidemic, incited racial discrimination and xenophobia, and seriously violated the development rights of ordinary people, especially minorities.


During the COVID-19 crisis, Mauritius had tightened its measures through procedures, guidelines and laws to ensure that all components of the population were treated with fairness and continued to enjoy human rights. In particular, food packs and facemasks were distributed to vulnerable households and pensions were delivered to the elderly and vulnerable at their homes. Moreover, tools for e-education were introduced to minimize any disruption, and to support all students in achieving academic and personal success during the pandemic and national lockdowns that followed.

In the 2022/2023 budget, the Government of Mauritius further re-informed and introduced new means to promote local businesses thus creating conditions for generating more employment opportunities especially for youth and women in different sectors.


Despite the harsh experience of the pandemic, it represents an opportunity to reconsider national policies and plans to be more resilient. The right to development is an inalienable right and a cornerstone for realizing various human rights, and to ensure an enabling environment for its implementation nationally and internationally, states should abide by their related obligations in all circumstances, foremost of which is strengthening multilateralism and revitalizing international cooperation and solidarity. Illegal and illegitimate unilateral coercive measures are a stark violation to the spirit and substance of these obligations, these measures undermine essential development activities in the targeted countries, increase the burden of external debt, prevent the exchange of experiences between peoples and the access to new areas in sciences, thus preventing the full and effective implementation of national plans.


The Malaysian delegation appreciates the Special Rapporteur's acknowledgement of Malaysia's approach of inclusivity in socio-economic development to ensure that no one is left behind. Building on these achievements, the country will continue implementing its post COVID-19 national recovery agenda to build economic resilience, restore economic stability, and reinvigorate economic growth in the country.


Indonesia upholds the commitment to fulfill the right to development of all people. To ensure that health service delivery reaches all provinces, particularly remote areas, related ministries work closely with all stakeholders and assist healthcare centers in villages to carry out close contact tracing, as well as distribute social assistance to the affected communities.

Indonesia encourages the role of multilateral development banks, including the World Bank, Asian Development Bank, and African Development Bank to explore alternative financing facilities with flexible interest concession schemes to address the risk of debt vulnerability, minimize the impact on credit rating and leverage ratio, as well as maintain financial stability.


Bangladesh upholds the right to development as a fundamental human right and recognizes that economic growth without inclusive and redistributive policies has a parallel relation with inequality. Many developing countries, particularly those with low-income, bear long-lasting and more profound implications because of their underdevelopment, inequality, and weak infrastructures. The delegation suggests that strengthened international cooperation and 'heightened solidarity', focusing on resource mobilization, technology transfer, and capacity building are urgently necessary. They urge developed country partners to deliver on their commitments to provide meaningful support to the developing countries in fulfilling their development aspirations.

Burkina Faso

Burkina Faso aligns itself with the statement delivered by Côte d'Ivoire on behalf of the African Group. In order to respond effectively to the COVID-19 pandemic, Burkina Faso has adopted a national response and recovery plan which takes into account health and social responses as well as economic recovery measures.

However, the implementation of this plan has encountered difficulties, including those listed by the Special Rapporteur in paragraphs 67 et seq. of his report, which must add to the security and humanitarian crises which constitute disqualifying factors to the realization of the right to development.

Saudi Arabia

The Kingdom has taken a number of measures and initiatives aimed at integrating the right to development in plans and policies to address the coronavirus pandemic, including the Kingdom's launch of 149 initiatives to support the private sector in this pandemic, the cost of which exceeded (58 billion US dollars).The country's government affirms its determination to achieve more goals in line with the Kingdom's Vision 2030 and to move forward towards supporting, promoting, and protecting human rights in general, including the right to development, in line with its national systems and international obligations.


The delegation affirms that the response to the pandemic largely depended upon the state's capability and availability of resources. Social safety nets were rolled out based on the state's financial strength. The developing countries and mostly the least developed countries strived to have access to the affordable and equitable supply of medical supplies, equipment, and vaccines in their response and recovery efforts. Nepal implemented policies and programs aimed at providing reliefs to the hard-hit sectors and to vulnerable sections of society adopting inclusive approach. Fundamental human rights were fully protected during the pandemic.


The Sultanate of Oman attaches great importance to restoring the pace of pre Coronavirus efforts aimed at achieving national development goals, adhering to its renewed ambition to implement the Oman 2040 vision.

From the beginning, the Sultanate of Oman organized a hierarchy process to ensure the desired effectiveness of the various sectors during the pandemic, in order to achieve a balance between the health, social, and economic aspects, and succeeded in harmonizing the restrictions imposed during the pandemic. Taking into account the interests of the population and with evidence, it lifted all restrictions once recovery and a return to public life had begun. This was done within a framework of transparency and keenness to facilitate the interests of individuals.


The Government of Azerbaijan has actively participated in fighting COVID-19 globally through bilateral and multilateral programs, providing support to more than 30 countries in the form of humanitarian aid and financial assistance. At the same time, it should be noted that our country has been implementing large-scale and systematic reconstruction and rehabilitation projects after liberating its territories from the occupation in late 2020. During the time of occupation, the natural resources of the territories of Azerbaijan were plundered and therefore could not be used for the welfare of the Azerbaijani people who are native inhabitants of those territories. The almost 30 year-long occupation denied the realization of the right to development for those Azerbaijanis who became Internally Displaced Persons.


The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that individual countries cannot face global emergencies and epidemics or reduce their various effects in order to achieve recovery without adopting a comprehensive approach based on international cooperation and solidarity, strengthening multilateral action, and ensuring the participation of various stakeholders.

In this context, the Algerian state has strengthened social and health coverage for most of its citizens, especially by allocating the equivalent of USD 3.1 billion in the 2022 budget to meet the challenges of the health sector. In the end, Algeria believes that the economic approach based on internationally agreed upon human rights is an essential lever to re-launch and accelerate our march towards achieving the sustainable development agenda set by the United Nations for the year 2030.


Botswana also aligns herself with the statement delivered by Côte d'Ivoire on behalf of the African Group.

Botswana continues to implement a successful and timely vaccination program which has enabled the easing of COVID restrictions, leading directly to an improvement in livelihoods.

To highlight other key recent initiatives, Botswana is currently implementing a temporary reduction of Value Added Tax on selected commodities to address inflationary pressures.

In conclusion, they welcome discussion on the various perspectives proffered by the Special Rapporteur and reaffirm Botswana's standing invitation to special procedure mandate holders.


Mozambique agrees with the Special Rapporteur that the global climate crisis, the frequency of natural disasters, and new global pandemics all have the potential to undo decades of development, as we have observed in recent years.

Mozambique's Five-Year Government Program (2019-2024) emphasizes the need for the involvement of all stakeholders including women, youth, and people with disabilities in the decision-making processes such as policy design, implementation, and budgeting on actions to accelerate the country's development.

In conclusion, Mozambique reiterates its support to the mandate of the special rapporteur on the right to development.


Covid-19, as recognized by the World Bank, has led to a dramatic increase in inequality within countries, and between countries, with an unprecedented worsening of poverty, particularly in developing countries where the economic repercussions are severe, thus seriously undermining the right to development.

Togo reiterates its call for strengthened international solidarity in order to minimize the worsening of poverty and inequality, a direct consequence of Covid-19.


The issue of recovering from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic remains a real challenge for the least developed with their fragile economies and weaker health systems. Strengthening the economies of these countries requires taking effective measures such as debt forgiveness and providing financing on concessional terms, with the aim of alleviating the negative effects that resulted from this pandemic. The issue of achieving a sustainable agenda that includes eradicating hunger and poverty, achieving justice, good governance, strengthening infrastructure, preserving the environment, and obtaining social services remains

a dream for states and peoples, as well as a responsibility for states and societies, and before that it is related to human rights. In the context of achieving comprehensive economic development, Sudan has adopted the National Quarter-Century Strategy (2007-2031) for planning economic development in a way that achieves sustainable development goals, embodies development balance, enhances social justice and welfare for the people.


Malawi has been adversely affected by the pandemic. A review of the Public Health Act has necessitated inclusion in the proposed legislation of language on the issues of the free provision of emergency health care, such as for Covid-19, to help save lives and mitigate the effects of delays in receiving treatment. Malawi acknowledges that global efforts are indeed required urgently to mitigate diverging paths of the COVID-19 recovery to avoid widening the gap further between the poor and the rich. The delegation urges the international community and financial institutions to join and assist the least developed countries, and enhance fiscal space and capacities in the areas of health, social protection and other human rights.


Cambodia considers development as an inalienable human right playing a crucial role in realizing the SDGs which have been hampered by the pandemic.

Efforts to support the vulnerable and affected groups through wide-ranging socio-economic interventions amounted to over USD 3 billion in these two years, benefiting nearly 3 million individuals, including children, people with disabilities and HIV, elderly people, and job suspended workers

To build back stronger, Cambodia adopted a "Post-Covid-19 Economic Recovery Plan 2021 to 2023", the "National Social Protection Policy Framework 2016-2025" while the "Draft Law on Social Protection System" is underway, aiming at reducing poverty, addressing inequality, and achieving the 2030 Agenda.

South Africa

South Africa aligns itself with the statements of the NAM and the African Group. The South African Economic Reconstruction and Recovery Plan's interventions are in pursuit of the National Development Plan goals of reducing unemployment, poverty, and inequality. It is geared towards ensuring that beyond just returning the economy to its pre-COVID-19 levels, it adds more GDP growth and jobs.

The plan is anchored on a social compact aimed at ensuring that there is cooperation and collaboration towards growing the economy, protecting the poor and vulnerable, transforming the patterns of ownership in the economy, and enhancing competitiveness through the provision of quality services and infrastructure. Its success rests on the strength of the social compact, the involvement of diverse stakeholders and the associated mobilization of resources.

Associazione Comunita Papa Giovanni XXIII

The large-scale impacts and consequences that the pandemic has had and is still having on the world are undeniable and incessant. The pandemic has clearly shown social disparity, systemic human rights violations, and a lack of a social safety net, aimed at protecting and supporting, in particular, those living in extreme poverty.

The delegation agrees with the Special Rapporteur saying that "COVID-19 response and recovery plans are, ultimately, development plans and that as such they should be in line with the right to development and the commitments governments made when elaborating the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, most importantly the promise to leave no one behind," and that "the view that development is solely an economic outcome is incomplete since it is possible for the development priorities of a population to remain unfulfilled despite economic growth".

A COVID-19 response should encompass such a holistic approach through recovery plans based on the RTD perspective. Many of the people suffering today will still be in danger when the next crisis comes, unless the commitments of the 2030 Agenda and a truly transformational approach, based on solidarity and international cooperation, are finally translated into concrete steps.

Author: Seraina Billeter

Uploaded: October 11 2022 (Originally on CD4Peace Archive Site)


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