It is common for the covid-19 pandemic to be treated as a topic of medicine, public health and economics, even public security. But it must be stressed that it is also a human rights issue, among other reasons for the profound impact it has on democratic regimes. Despite the decline in multilateralism seen in the years leading up to this pandemic, international organizations have made a great effort to offer States parameters that contribute to minimizing the negative effects of measures to combat the pandemic on human dignity, the right to health and others. fundamental rights and freedoms. Thus, it is necessary to listen to the World Health Organization, the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank; but it is also necessary to listen carefully to international mechanisms for the protection of human rights.
Even in countries whose central executive powers are indifferent or hostile to international guidelines, they are capable of making a valuable contribution to local governments and other public institutions, including the judiciary, faced with the need to decide in the context of unprecedented, uncertainties and urgency. On April 11, 2020, 818 cases related to covid-19 were processed in the Federal Supreme Court alone . However, in addition to the public sector, social entities and movements, opinion makers and specialists can also benefit the collection accumulated in the international sphere by specialized bodies. Decades of work have made them deeply knowledgeable about their respective objects and the complex reality of the regions they cover.
This is the case of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, based in Washington (United States), which last April 10 adopted an important rule, entitled “Pandemic and Human Rights in the Americas” - Resolution no. 01/2020 , by which it formulates recommendations of the greatest relevance.
We were honored to participate in the elaboration of this text as invited experts. This is another recognition of the knowledge that USP has produced; in this case, in particular, two specialties developed at the Faculty of Public Health: health law and global health. As in other Brazilian public universities, these fields are studied here the perspective of ethics, democracy and human rights, which includes close monitoring of international guidelines on the subject.
Created by the Organization of American States (OAS) in 1959, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights composes, together with the Court installed in 1979, the Inter-American System for the Protection of Human Rights (IAHRS). Based on the OAS Charter (1948)  and the American Convention on Human Rights (1969) , its mission to promote and protect human rights is mainly exercised through a system of individual petitions, by monitoring the human rights situation in the Member States and by initiatives aimed at priority thematic lines. During 2019 alone, the Commission received 3,034 petitions, 242 of which were related to possible human rights violations in Brazil .
To act during the pandemic, including preventively, the Commission created a “Coordination and Response Room” . Among the first initiatives of that Room is the drafting of the Resolution on the pandemic, in which the members of the Commission participated, with special emphasis on the Presidency and the Special Rapporteurship on Economic, Social, Cultural and Environmental Rights, the Executive Secretariat and its technical team, in addition to invited experts like us.
In a brief summary, we highlight four among the many contributions offered by the aforementioned Resolution. First, understanding the right to health as an autonomous right, not just as an adjective to the right to life: it is a public good whose protection is the responsibility of States. Second, the need to adopt a human rights approach to all official pandemic strategies, measures or policies. In other words, with each measure adopted, it is necessary to foresee and minimize any negative impacts on the rights of the people affected, and particularly of the most vulnerable populations. Third, the eventual adoption of restrictive rights measures must be subject to the principles of legality and proportionality; it must be accompanied by due motivation and be temporarily restricted; it must restrain stigma and discrimination against people, among other criteria. Fourth, transparency and the duty of information must be broad, with guarantees of protection for journalists and advocates. Statements by state authorities must be reasonable and based on scientific evidence.
These are just a few points in a Resolution that represents a milestone in the evolution of health law in the region of the Americas. Esp We believe that, by means of an agreement that is currently being processed, the Faculty of Public Health can continue to contribute to the actions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, especially through the Center for Research in Sanitary Law and the Doctorate in Global Health and Sustainability, initiatives whose pioneering spirit, technical quality and social commitment are recognized in their respective fields. May the expertise accumulated over decades of research and extension allow us to contribute, together with other institutions, to the development of international standards for responding to pandemics to meet the immense challenges that lie ahead.