The COVID-19 pandemic is a global phenomenon with consequences that are already dramatic in many areas. UNESCO, and its Social and Human Sciences Programme in particular, is being called upon in various ways. A major challenge prevails beyond all our potential actions: to protect human health and dignity and to respect universal values in the current context. At this stage, this involves: combating discriminatory discourse, hatred and stigmatization; identifying the most vulnerable social groups in order to conceptualize appropriate measures and share good practices; ensuring respect for ethical rules; and, studying and understanding the impact of the crisis on social relations (within families; between generations; between social and ethnic groups, etc.).
UNESCO calls for COVID-19 vaccines to be considered a global public good
UNESCO’s International Bioethics Committee (IBC) and the World Commission on the Ethics of Scientific Knowledge and Technology (COMEST) have called for a change of course in current COVID-19 vaccination strategies, urging that vaccines be treated as a global public good to ensure they are made equitably available in all countries, and not only to those who bid the highest for these vaccines. Both committees have a long track record in providing ethical guidance on sensitive issues.
Read related IBC reports
- Report of the IBC on the Principle of Individual Responsibility as related to Health (2019)
- Report of the IBC on the Bioethical Response to the Situation of Refugees (2017)
- Report of the IBC on the Principle of the Sharing of Benefits (2015)
- Report of the IBC on the Principle of Non-Discrimination and Non-Stigmatization (2014)
- The Principle of Respect for Human Vulnerability and Personal Integrity. Report of the IBC (2013)
- Report of the IBC on social responsibility and health (2010)
- See also: Report of COMEST on “Ethical Perspective on Science, Technology and Society: A Contribution to the Post-2015 Agenda” (2015)
Youth as Researchers: exploring the impact of COVID-19
The Youth As Researchers (YAR) global initiative on COVID-19 connects and engages with youth to conduct research on the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on young people and the responses this population has implemented to tackle these issues. UNESCO, together with the UNESCO Chairs, leads a consortium of youth-led or youth-related actors to support the research through training, mentoring, and coordination.