- Panel discussion held with OAS Secretary General and Ambassadors from Latin America
- 400 regional organizations to take part in raising concerns about current threats to fundamental rights and freedoms
Washington D.C. (16 October 2020) – Has the Covid-19 pandemic posed a threat not only to people’s health, but to their fundamental rights and freedoms? On Friday 09 October 2020, ADF International, in partnership with Congreso Iberoamericano por la Vida y la Familia, and over 400 stakeholders involved in OAS activities, hosted a webinar addressing this question.
The conversation brought together leaders from across the region, including The Secretary General, several Ambassadors to the Organization of American States and over 400 registered NGO executives concerned about human rights in these unprecedented times. Amidst rising concerns, participants, including Ligia Briz of the Coalition for Life and Family, also expressed praise for the family unit as a protectorate of the rights and freedoms of the most vulnerable,particularly during times of crisis. Governments were challenged to implement policies that would support families further throughout the pandemic and beyond.
“The family is a fundamental piece [of society] that provides social stability and a fundamental component of development. Any study that is made can clearly show us that the family is the first instrument to eliminate causes of poverty,” remarked Dr. Luis Almagro, Secretary-General of the OAS.
Concerns about religious freedom and political opportunism
Throughout the dialogue, leaders from civil society offered varying perspectives on the outcomes of the pandemic on human rights. Nadia Marquez of the Ibero-American Evangelical Congress presented concerns about the prolonged restrictions imposed on freedom of religion throughout the year, devaluing this fundamental right to a “non-essential” status. Other representatives gave a regional overlook at the opportunistic involvement of international institutions during the pandemic, raising concerns that ideological agendas had been prioritized over and above measures to truly care for those in need.
“Now more than ever, we are reminded that vulnerable people need our compassionate love and support. The pandemic has been taken as an opportunity by some institutions to advance political agendas; disregarding States´ international legal commitments and national laws. In a region where social inequalities were already extreme, international organizations need to instead focus their efforts on supporting those most affected: the elderly, the poor, the sick, children without access to education, and more,” said Neydy Casillas, Senior Counsel for ADF International at the OAS.
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