May 05, 2020

Responding to the Global Pandemic through MGA COVID-19 TaskForce

United Nations, Secretary General, Antonio Guterres recently released a policy brief entitled “We are all in this Together.” The policy brief insists that a response to the COVID -19 pandemic must derive from a Human Rights Framework.  Recognising that the Virus does not discriminate but its impacts do, a human rights approach ‘ puts everyone in the picture and ensures that no-one is left behind’[i]

Much of what is proposed in this policy briefing can provide a blue print for a collective Mercy response. The brief states:

“Evidence already shows how long-standing inequalities and unequal underlying determinants of health are leaving particular individuals and groups disproportionately impacted by the virus –both in loss of lives and livelihoods…Observing the crisis and its impact through a human rights lens puts focus on how it is affecting people on the ground, particularly the most vulnerable among us, and what can be done about it now, and in the long term.”[ii]

From a Mercy Global Perspective, we are indeed in a position to observe and respond to how it is affecting earth and people, particularly the most vulnerable. Sisters of Mercy and Associates have unique insights into the impact this virus is having on local, regional and global communities. This impact is not only in terms of health, but also has economic and social consequences.  As the Policy Briefing states, ‘The COVID-19 crisis has exacerbated the vulnerability of the least protected in society. It is highlighting deep economic and social inequalities and inadequate health and social protection systems that require urgent attention as part of the public health response’.[iii]

At the heart of this policy brief are those considered most vulnerable to the impact of the pandemic. These include; women and girls, youth and older persons, refugees and migrants, the poor, people with disabilities, persons in detention, minorities, LGBTIQ  people and others.

Significantly this policy brief states the following:

“Our shared human condition and values must be a source of unity, not division. We must give people hope and a vision of what the future can hold. The human rights system helps us to meet the challenges, opportunities and needs of the 21st century; to reconstruct relations between people and leaders; and to achieve the global stability, solidarity, pluralism and inclusion on which we all depend. It points to the ways in which we can transform hope into concrete action with real impact on people’s lives. It must never be a pretext for power or politics; it is above both.”

Likewise in his response to the Global Pandemic , Pope Francis has been resolute in highlighting the plight of those most vulnerable. He has called for global solidarity and prayer.  Conscious that the decisions taken by governments and world leaders in the next few months will shape the future of our world, he has set up a Vatican Commission in response to COVID-19. This commission will be led by the Dicastery for Promoting Integral Human Development.   In a statement published April 15 2020, the Vatican said the goal of the Commission, is “to express the church's concern and love for the entire human family in the face of the of COVID-19 pandemic."

As a way of standing in solidarity with those most vulnerable, Mercy Global Action has set up a Mercy COVID-19 TaskForce to explore a Mercy response to this Pandemic.  Drawing on our Mercy Tradition, Catholic Social Teaching and utilizing a Human Rights Framework, It is hoped that this TaskForce will provide opportunities for reflection, information sharing and action. Further information about the TaskForce will be published in coming weeks.

Messages to: Angela Reed rsm -Head of Mercy Global Action

[i] Guterres, Antonio, We are All in this Together: Human Rights and COVID-19 Response and Recovery, April 23,2020. Accessed May 4,2020

[ii] United Nations, COVID-19 and Human Rights: We Are All in this Together. Accessed April 23, 2020

CAN, Vatican creates commission to address Corona virus aftermath. Accessed May 4,2020

[iii] United Nations, COVID-19 and Human Rights: We Are All in this Together. Accessed April 23, 2020

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