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Covid-19 Response and Rebuilding Principles

28 April 2020

In these unprecedented times, governments are called to act rapidly to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic. Given that a quick response is urgently required to “flatten the curve” (slow the spread of the disease), policy-makers find themselves moving swiftly to make decisions that will have long-term implications across the globe. To ensure their choices and decisions respect and support human rights and national accountability systems designed to have participatory processes, it is critical that the policymakers are guided by a common set of principles.

This set of Principles, agreed by a wide sector of civil society, lay out the key areas policy-makers and decision-makers, at all levels of government, in corporations, and in multilateral organisations must consider at all stages of their response to COVID-19.

We call on governments, authorities and all those making critical decisions everywhere, to heed these 8 principles:


1)    People First – People’s safety and well-being comes first and must be at the core of any response to the crisis.

2)    Protect Human Rights – Protect, safeguard, respect and promote the human rights of all affected directly or indirectly by the pandemic, paying particular attention to women and girls and the most vulnerable without discrimination. Enforcement of new laws should not involve violence or repression.

3)    Universal – All people must be able to access medical, material and financial support during the crisis. Equal access to testing, medical care, research and economic support, without costs, must be freely available to every level of society across the globe, based on need.

4)    Proportionate – Ensure that all measures enacted are taken to deal with the crisis and its effects – they must not evolve or target objectives not related to the virus. All measures must be time-bound and reviewed at set intervals, to determine their continuing validity, in the light of human rights.

5)    Accountable –Provide people at all levels of society with safe and dedicated accountability mechanisms, and to monitor and verify all stages of the COVID-19 response and implementation plan. Where possible, consult broadly to ensure the views of all are heard and decisions are shared in a transparent manner and to keep all sectors of society well informed.

6)    Global – While domestic priorities are prominent, COVID-19 is a global crisis and support must be given to all countries in need. Global solidarity, cooperation, and resource-sharing is a priority for defeating the pandemic and minimizing its effects.

7)    Future-focused – Short, medium and long-term measures, taken now, should contribute to building a more just, resilient and sustainable economy, health systems and society and not worsen the climate crisis nor should they divert funds from other critical programmes. Policies must look to the future and ensure the measures taken fundamentally transform the structural inequalities, including gender inequality, that caused these disproportionate impacts on women, girls, marginalized and vulnerable people.

8)    Do No Harm – all policy-makers and decision-makers must be aware and attentive to the impact of their measures on all of society, and must seek consistently to do no harm, whether by acts of commission or omission, and be observant to both direct and indirect consequences of actions taken or proposed.

In addition to these Principles, the COVID-19 Advocacy Coordination Hub will be producing a Covid-19 Response Toolkit setting out detailed recommendations for policymakers and decision makers to draw on when implementing their overall response to the virus, domestically and internationally, in the short-term and the long-term.

We are all partners in this extraordinary response to a devastating disease and we will work in partnership with all stakeholders and collaborate to ensure we overcome this threat. 

These Principles have been endorsed by 72 organisations and 6 individuals, including Sense International. 


We urgently need your help so we can be there for people with deafblindness during COVID-19 as now more than ever they need to be able to rely on us. Please help us by donating today. 

First published: Tuesday 18 June 2013
Last updated: Friday 6 December 2019