No response to crisis can be effective without the support of a strong, diverse & capable civil society

Statement at the 50th Session of the UN Human Rights Council

Interactive Debate on High Commissioner's report on State response to pandemics

Delivered by Nicola Paccamiccio

Thank you, Mister President, and thank you High Commissioner for your report.

With the worst of the pandemic over, States and citizens look to the future while analysing the actions taken in the past. With a clearer view, we see that many States acted with a heavy hand that adversely restricted civic space in the name of national health. We see that many States chose to use the pandemic as a veil with which to cover many ongoing and some new restrictions on civil society. And, while supporting our societies in coping with the impact of prolonged lockdowns, many States ignored the needs of the sector by not including civil society in recovery plans and stimulus packages.

Conversely, we see that civil society was resilient in the face of crackdowns. Civil society continued to organise, mobilise and offer necessary services at a community level. We see that civil society played a crucial watchdog role and in many cases paid a heavy price.

As we look to the future, to prevent devastating health and economic effects of another pandemic, we see that no response is good enough without the support of a strong, diverse, and capable civil society. It is for this reason that civil society should be meaningfully included in all post pandemic processes, having been closest to the ground, including the pandemic treaty negotiations. States should increase their funding and access to resources for civil society and protect and promote the enabling environment for civil society. By doing so, States would be ultimately securing mechanisms, enablers and spaces that they themselves need to work with and for the societies they serve. When civil society is relevant and resilient, societies can count on the arenas for participation, confrontation and solidarity needed to face the post-pandemic challenges ahead of us.

We thank you.