On the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Forum on Sustainable Development, the Issue-based coalition on Human Rights, Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment (IBC HR-GEWE; composed of OHCHR, UNFPA, UN Women (co-chairs), and ESCAP, FAO, ILO, IOM, UNAIDS, UNDP, UNDRR, UNEP, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIDO, UNODC and WFP), the Danish Institute for Human Rights Asia Pacific Forum of National Human Rights Institutions, and the Indonesian National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) organized an online side event on 23 March 2021.
This interactive side event focused on the role of human rights in building back better after COVID-19 and in achieving the 2030 Agenda, aiming to inspire governments and other stakeholders in the region to take action, by showcasing concrete initiatives from different stakeholders the Asia-Pacific, illustrating how recovery with human rights at the heart is not only the right thing to do, but also the smart thing. Through contributions from countries with successful response and recovery strategies, leading experts and interactive segments with the audience, the side event served as a platform to share good practices guided by human rights, that are proving effective in navigating the crisis and building back truly sustainable and just societies in the Asia-Pacific region.
Speakers shared strong messages on:
- The importance of respecting human rights when fighting a public health crisis, securing participation, transparency, the right to information and access to vaccines for all – Anand Grover, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Health;
- How Indonesia has made efforts to leave no one behind in its socio-economic response to the impact of COVID-19 – Diani Sadiawati, Expert Staff to the Minister of Planning, Indonesia;
- The need for a more equal world of work, and attention to climate change as an existential threat to us all and to future generations – Pallawish Kumar, Youth 4 Climate Action Project;
- The rise in gender-based violence in Nepal, and creative initiatives that support victims despite the challenging circumstances – Bandana Rana, member of the CEDAW Committee;
- A number of initiatives taken by the Commission on Human Rights in the Philippines in response to COVID-19 related human rights issues – Commissioner Karen Gomez-Dumpit, Commission on Human Rights, Philippines; and
- The many ways in which children’s rights in Malaysia have been affected by the pandemic, and how the National Human Rights Commission Suhakam has taken measures to address these issues – Commissioner Dato’ Noor Aziah Hj. Mohd. Awal, SUHAKAM, Malaysia.