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LAW, JUSTICE AND DEVELOPMENT WEEK 2020 | COVID-19 and Human Rights: Impacts and Lessons Learned

November 17, 2020



Watch the replay on World Bank Facebook.


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant global impact. The virus has had a disparate impact on groups, with the poor and vulnerable being disproportionately affected. As governments have tried to tackle the pandemic, several policy measures have been taken which directly impact people’s human rights. The scope of these measures has been far reaching and has impacted people differently. In many cases it has exacerbated inequalities and increased certain groups’ vulnerability, and in some instances responses to the pandemic have been thinly veiled pretexts to target particular groups and isolation has often provided a context for severe human rights violations. Thus, the pandemic itself created significant health related and socio-economic impacts on different groups in society; and the policy response has in some instances also negatively impacted political and civil rights.

This panel aims to highlight the different human rights impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The panel has three objectives:

  1. To provide an in-depth discussion of the main human rights impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the human rights impacts generated by response policies. 
  2. Discuss the interplay between the different human rights impacts. 
  3. Identify good practices and forward-looking solutions that can draw on human rights law and human rights due diligence to mitigate the human rights impacts of the virus and responses to it.
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    Tlaleng Mofokeng

    UN Special Rapporteur on Right to Health

    Tlaleng Mofokeng is Commissioner at the Commission for Gender Equality in South Africa and member of the boards of Safe Abortion Action Fund, Global Advisory Board for Sexual Health and Wellbeing, Accountability International. She is also the Chair of the Soul City Institute board. She has experience in advocacy training for healthcare professionals and her areas of focus have been on gender equality, policy, maternal and neonatal health, universal health access, post violence care, menstrual health, and HIV management. Tlaleng Mofokeng has been advisor to the Technical Committee for the National Adolescent Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Framework Strategy in South Africa, successfully mobilizing across movements working on issues of children and adolescents, persons with disabilities, migrants and persons living with HIV/AIDS. She has briefed the United States Senate congressional staff on the impact of the Global Gag Rule globally and in the region. She has worked as a first responder on matters of gender-based violence, and has been an expert witness in court, leaning on the work of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) to defend the rights of the abused with an interest to ensure access to post violence care.


    Philippe Lacoste

    Director, Sustainable Development, French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs

    Philippe Lacoste is the Director of Sustainable Development at the French Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs. Previously, he served as the Ambassador of France in Chad and was the Deputy Special Representative for the Paris Climate Conference (COP 21). A career diplomat, Mr. Lacoste has held various positions in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He holds a Master’s degree in Environmental Sciences from the National School for Public Infrastructures. He is a graduate of the Paris Institute for Political Science and the National School of Administration.


    Paul-Joël Kamtchang

    Executive Secretary, Adisi-Cameroun

    Paul-Joel Kamtchang is a Datactivist and Data Journalist wearing his cap as Executive Secretary of ADISI-Cameroon, a Cameroonian civil society organization, supporting, a platform for promoting Data Journalism and fact-checking, the first of its kind in Cameroon and Central Africa. He is at the head of a team of journalists, IT specialists and digital communicators, and in charge of monitoring and evaluation of the "Fact and Data Covid-19 Cameroon" project, supported by AFD. This project aims to better inform Cameroonians about public policies in the fight against COVID-19. He is also an associate expert in the #Defyhatenow project.


    Jan Wouters

    Professor of International Law and International Organizations, University of Leuven, Co-Chair of the GFLJD Working Group on Human Rights and Sustainable Development

    Jan Wouters is Full Professor of International Law and International Organizations, Jean Monnet Chair ad personam, Director, Institute for International Law and Leuven Centre for Global Governance Studies (Jean Monnet Centre of Excellence and University Centre of Excellence), President, International Policy Council, KU Leuven. Adjunct Professor, Columbia University, Visiting Professor, Sciences Po, LUISS and College of Europe. Member of the Belgian Royal Academy; Of Counsel, Linklaters. He has published widely on international and EU law, international organizations, global governance and corporate and financial law. He coordinates a Horizon 2020 Project, RECONNECT, and frequently advises and trains international organizations and governments.


    Joelle Grogan

    Senior Lecturer in Law, Middlesex University

    Joelle Grogan is a Senior Lecturer in Law at Middlesex University London. Her research focuses on the rule of law, in particular the legal measures taken in response to Brexit and COVID-19. Joelle is part of the H2020-funded RECONNECT project; director of a Fintech startup, InferStat Ltd; and creator of the legal education blog, StickyTrickyLaw. Joelle convened the 'COVID-19 and States of Emergency' Symposium, jointly hosted by the Verfassungblog and Democracy Reporting International, which analysed the use of emergency powers in response to the COVID-19 crisis globally from the perspective of democracy, human rights and the rule of law.


    Vanessa Murphy

    Legal Adviser, International Committee of the Red Cross

    Vanessa Murphy is a Legal Adviser at the International Committee of the Red Cross, where she works on issues including women, gender and sexual violence in armed conflict. Her experience prior to the ICRC includes litigation on behalf of survivors of childhood sexual abuse, the running of support services for survivors of domestic violence and human-trafficking, and work for organizations including DCAF, Human Rights Now and the International Criminal Law Media Review. She holds an LLM in international humanitarian law from the Geneva Academy, a Graduate Diploma in Law in the UK, and a BA in Political Science from Yale University.


    Siobhan McInerney-Lankford (Moderator)

    Senior Counsel, World Bank, Co-chair of the GFLJD Working Group on Human Rights and Sustainable Development

    Siobhán McInerney-Lankford is Senior Counsel at the World Bank Legal Vice-Presidency and an expert in international human rights law. She has advised the World Bank on human rights since 2002 and has represented the World Bank in a variety of fora including the UN, EU and the OECD; from 2006-2009 she chaired the OECD DAC Human Rights Task Team. Siobhán is an adjunct professor at AU Washington College of Law, and has published widely on human rights law.She holds an LL.B. from Trinity College, Dublin, (First Class Honors), an LL.M. from Harvard Law School, a B.C.L. and D.Phil. (EU human rights law) both from Oxford. She is admitted to practice law in Rhode Island and the District of Columbia.


  • FORMAT: Panel Discussion
  • DATE: November 17, 2020
  • TIME: 11:00 AM - 12:30 PM ET
  • ACCESS: Public