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Coronavirus Pandemic: Experts discuss human rights values reflected in global responses
May 31,2020   By:CGTN
May 31,2020 -- A panel of legal and global affairs experts have met online, to discuss human rights values reflected in the world's responses to COVID-19.
 
Public health responses against the coronavirus have differed from country to country. Some believe it's not just because of differences in healthcare capacities, but also diverse values related to human rights. 
 
At Huazhong University of Science and Technology, in the hard-hit Chinese city of Wuhan, an international forum looks into how such differences play a part. Its organizers believe a discussion of human rights issues has special significance at this moment.
 
PROFESSOR WANG XIGEN Dean, Institute for Human Rights Law Huazhong University of Science and Technology "We are now in an emergency situation, a severe virus is killing people, and we have to take extraordinary, unconventional measures to protect human rights. An important issue is how to put fundamental human rights in the first place. If we get it wrong, it will alter the course of prevention and control and lead to undesirable results. For example, in some western countries, they have the most advanced medical conditions and national strength, but also high death and infection rates."
 
More than 40 scholars and legal professionals from Asia, Europe and Africa discussed how to protect human rights amid the pandemic.  
 
PROFESSOR WANG XIGEN Dean of the Institute for Human Rights Law Huazhong University of Science and Technology "Our first consensus is respect for life— to prioritize the supremacy of priceless human life. And we should stick to people-oriented prevention and control, medical treatment as well as isolation measures. Without a focus on humans and humanity, all measures will fail."
 
Government responses to the virus have differed, reflective of national conditions and values. Some have emphasized economic needs, some have relied on technology more than others, and some have taken a middle-of-the-road approach to balance legal restrictions and individual responsibility.  These experiences were also discussed.
 
DR. PATRICE VAHARD Representative of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights in Guinea "We are educated to be an embodiment of the social concept of Ubuntu, this is an African concept that conveys the notion that individual rights can and should be realized within the communal cohesion and not at the expense of the group. It is on the basis of this cultural background that I advocate for the universal treatment of COVID-19 in a manner that is accessible, fast and affordable to all."
 
PROFESSOR KE LAN Institute for Human Rights Law Huazhong University of Science and Technology "The Confucian philosophy emphasizes the idea that disadvantaged groups should be the first to be looked at in a society. If you sacrifice these people, your society, no matter how well it develops, is not a good one. I think this concept was reflected in our treatment and response."
 
Experts see it as a good opportunity to enhance mutual understanding and to learn from each other, while they also oppose discrimination and stigmatizing a certain country or people.
 
PROFESSOR GERD KAMINSKI Executive Vice President, Austria-China Friendship Assoc. "The last mimicry of 'Yellow Peril' was to be created by Mr. Trump and company in form of 'China Virus' and 'Wuhan Virus'. Taking the history of the so-called Chinese Yellow and other Perils into consideration, politicians would be well advised to deal with such terms in a responsible way."
 
The attendees recognize that it may well be the case various approaches could lead to a victory over the virus. And they are calling for global solidarity and cooperation for the protection of common well-being.