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NHRCK shares international guidance on COVID-19 and human rights

Graphic: Graphic of a nurse administering a COVID-19 test

The NHRCK will work with relevant ministries to ensure that the recommendations in the documents are reflected in government policy responses.

To support the efforts of government and civil society in responding to the pandemic, the National Human Rights Commission has translated and distributed guidance on COVID-19 and human rights prepared by leading UN experts and bodies.

These documents – including "The UN Secretary-General's Policy Brief: Covid-19 and Human Rights" and "COVID-19 Guidance" – highlight the importance of protecting the right to life, showing international solidarity, tackling hatred and discrimination and the role of national human rights institutions during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, the UN has released separate guidance on promoting and protecting the rights of vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities, people held in places of detention, migrants, indigenous people, minorities and children.

In these reports, the UN calls on States to take steps to protect vulnerable groups that have been disproportionately affected by the pandemic, including:

  • Enhanced social and economic protection measures for those over 80 years
  • Measures to prevent hatred and stigmatisation of older persons, foreigners and LGBTI persons
  • Immediate release of detained children
  • Measures to address increased domestic violence against women.

The reports also recommend that States comply with the principles of legality, necessity, proportionality and non-discrimination when enforcing emergency measures that restrict civil and political rights of individuals.

The international community has recognised that Korea is successfully handling the COVID-19 crisis through the sacrifices of health care personnel, the prompt response from central and local governments, and the efforts of the Korean public.

However, to become a true role model for the international community, it is essential that the government ensure a comprehensive policy response to COVID-19 that complies with international human rights standards, reflects the voices of civil society and provides full protection for vulnerable groups.

The NHRCK will work with relevant ministries and civil society organizations to ensure that the recommendations contained in these UN documents are reflected in government policy responses.

Date: 28 May 2020

Source: National Human Rights Commission of Korea


The National Human Rights Commission has assessed that excluding foreign residents from receiving emergency coronavirus relief funds infringes on equal rights, KBS World Radio reported.

The Commission said that treating foreign residents differently in policies on COVID-19 relief funds is a form a discrimination without reasonable cause. The Commission has urged the Seoul Mayor and the Governor of Gyeonggi Province to amend their policies so that foreign residents are supported on the same basis as citizens.


Image credits

  1. Graphic of a nurse administering a COVID-19 test - Photo by UN COVID-19 response on Unsplash