General Comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment :: COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD

Children’s Rights – Digital Environment

General Comment on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment
COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD
March 2, 2021 :: 20 pages
Overview
At its 86th session, the Committee on the Rights of the Child adopted its general comment No. 25 (2021) on children’s rights in relation to the digital environment. A terminology glossary, explanatory note and child-friendly version are also available.  In March 2019, the Committee invited all interested parties to comment on the concept note of the general comment, and received 136 submissions on the concept note. In parallel, 709 children and young people in 28 countries were consulted. In August 2020, the Committee invited all interested parties to comment on its draft general comment, and received 142 submissions from States, regional organisations, United Nations agencies, national human rights institutions and Children’s Commissioners, children’s and adolescent groups, civil society organisations, academics, the private sector, and other entities and individuals.

General Comments [Selected Excerpts]
I. Introduction
1. The children consulted for the present general comment reported that digital technologies were vital to their current lives and to their future: “By the means of digital technology, we can get information from all around the world”; “[Digital technology] introduced me to major aspects of how I identify myself”; “When you are sad, the Internet can help you [to] see something that brings you joy”.1

2. The digital environment is constantly evolving and expanding, encompassing information and communications technologies, including digital networks, content, services and applications, connected devices and environments, virtual and augmented reality, artificial intelligence, robotics, automated systems, algorithms and data analytics, biometrics and implant technology.2

3. The digital environment is becoming increasingly important across most aspects of children’s lives, including during times of crisis, as societal functions, including education, government services and commerce, progressively come to rely upon digital technologies. It affords new opportunities for the realization of children’s rights, but also poses the risks of their violation or abuse. During consultations, children expressed the view that the digital environment should support, promote and protect their safe and equitable engagement: “We would like the government, technology companies and teachers to help us [to] manage untrustworthy information online.”; “I would like to obtain clarity about what really happens with my data … Why collect it? How is it being collected?”; “I am … worried about my data being shared”.3

4. The rights of every child must be respected, protected and fulfilled in the digital environment. Innovations in digital technologies affect children’s lives and their rights in ways that are wide-ranging and interdependent, even where children do not themselves access the Internet. Meaningful access to digital technologies can support children to realize the full range of their civil, political, cultural, economic and social rights. However, if digital inclusion is not achieved, existing inequalities are likely to increase, and new ones may arise…

II. Objective
7. In the present general comment, the Committee explains how States parties should implement the Convention in relation to the digital environment and provides guidance on relevant legislative, policy and other measures to ensure full compliance with their obligations under the Convention and the Optional Protocols thereto in the light of the opportunities, risks and challenges in promoting, respecting, protecting and fulfilling all children’s rights in the digital environment…

IV. Evolving capacities
19. States parties should respect the evolving capacities of the child as an enabling principle that addresses the process of their gradual acquisition of competencies, understanding and agency.9 That process has particular significance in the digital environment, where children can engage more independently from supervision by parents and caregivers. The risks and opportunities associated with children’s engagement in the digital environment change depending on their age and stage of development. They should be guided by those considerations whenever they are designing measures to protect children in, or facilitate their access to, that environment. The design of age-appropriate measures should be informed by the best and most up-to-date research available, from a range of disciplines.

20. States parties should take into account the changing position of children and their agency in the modern world, children’s competence and understanding, which develop unevenly across areas of skill and activity, and the diverse nature of the risks involved. Those considerations must be balanced with the importance of exercising their rights in supported environments and the range of individual experiences and circumstances.10 States parties should ensure that digital service providers offer services that are appropriate for children’s evolving capacities.

21. In accordance with States’ duty to render appropriate assistance to parents and caregivers in the performance of their child-rearing responsibilities, States parties should promote awareness among parents and caregivers of the need to respect children’s evolving autonomy, capacities and privacy. They should support parents and caregivers in acquiring digital literacy and awareness of the risks to children in order to help them to assist children in the realization of their rights, including to protection, in relation to the digital environment…

9 General comment No. 7 (2005), para. 17; and general comment No. 20 (2016), paras. 18 and 20.
10 General comment No. 20 (2016), para. 20.
11 General comment No. 5 (2003), para. 45; general comment No. 14 (2013), para. 99; and general comment No. 16 (2013), paras. 78–81.

Data for Better Lives – Worlds Development Report 2021 :: World Bank Group

Development

Data for Better Lives – Worlds Development Report 2021
A World Bank Group Flagship Report
2021 :: 350 pages
PDF: https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/35218/9781464816000.pdf

World Bank Group President David Malpass: Foreword to the World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives

Data governance is the subject of intense debate in advanced economies and increasingly among large emerging markets. And yet many complex policy questions remain unanswered. In response, World Development Report 2021: Data for Better Lives surveys the emerging landscape and provides policy makers with a framework for thinking through the issues, opportunities, and trade-offs. One thing is clear: the perspective of lower-income countries has so far been largely absent from these global debates and urgently needs to be heard.

Data are a double-edged sword. On the one hand, they offer tremendous potential to create value by improving programs and policies, driving economies, and empowering citizens. On the other hand, data accumulation can lead to a concentration of economic and political power, raising the possibility that data may be misused in ways that harm citizens. Data are a resource that can be used and reused repeatedly to create more and more value, but there is a problem—the more data are reused, the higher is the risk of abuse.

It is hard to imagine a more dramatic example of these opportunities and tensions than the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries around the world have moved swiftly to repurpose mobile phone records to monitor the spread of the virus. But at the same time they have struggled to balance this benefit against privacy concerns and the risk of misuse.

Beyond pandemic times, the statistical capacity to produce and effectively use core economic and social data is limited. Many poor countries are unable to accurately track public finances, report on external debt, or monitor their development goals. Without such data, the ability to hold governments accountable and track progress withers.

Data governance arrangements to facilitate greater use of data while safeguarding against misuse remain in their infancy. The legal and regulatory frameworks for data are inadequate in lower-income countries, which all too often have gaps in critical safeguards as well as shortages of data-sharing measures. There, the data systems and infrastructure that enable interoperability and allow data to flow to more users are incomplete; less than 20 percent of low- and middle-income countries have modern data infrastructure such as colocation data centers and direct access to cloud computing facilities. Even where nascent data systems and governance frameworks exist, a lack of institutions with the requisite administrative capacity, decision-making autonomy, and financial resources holds back their effective implementation and enforcement.

To address these concerns, World Development Report 2021 calls for a new social contract for data—one that enables the use and reuse of data to create economic and social value, promotes equitable opportunities to benefit from data, and fosters citizens’ trust that they will not be harmed by misuse of the data they provide. However, in seeking such a social contract, lower income countries are too often disadvantaged because they lack the infrastructure and skills to capture data and turn them into value; the scale and agency to participate equitably in global data markets and their governance; and the institutional and regulatory frameworks to create trust in data systems.

Forging a new social contract for data is a pressing domestic policy priority that will require strengthening national data systems and engaging all stakeholders at the national level. Because of the global scale of data, some of the most challenging aspects of the social contract also call for closer international cooperation to harmonize regulations and coordinate policies—bilaterally, regionally, and globally. Critical areas for international engagement include reform of international taxation rights for data-driven businesses, World Trade Organization arrangements for trade in data-enabled services, regional collaboration on the development of data infrastructure, international harmonization of technical standards to support interoperability, and bilateral collaboration on law enforcement and antitrust regulation…

Realizing the full value of data will depend on a substantial commitment and effort, and it will be difficult. But the cost of failure is a world of missed opportunities and greater inequities.

David R. Malpass
President, The World Bank Group

 

 

 

Organization of American States [OAS] and Facebook to Cooperate on Electoral Integrity, Human Rights and Economic Recovery, among other areas

Integrity – Elections, Human Rights, Economic Recovery

Organization of American States [OAS] and Facebook to Cooperate on Electoral Integrity, Human Rights and Economic Recovery, among other areas
March 22, 2021
The Organization of American States (OAS) and Facebook signed a cooperation agreement to work on initiatives in several areas, including electoral integrity, human rights and economic development in the Americas…

The agreement provides for the development and implementation of joint research projects, training programs, and dissemination of studies in areas of mutual interest. The joint initiative seeks to continue improving responses to issues such as disinformation, electoral integrity, freedom of expression or the protection of human rights defenders, in pursuit of having an increasingly plural online and offline debate….

Facebook’s Vice President of Global Affairs and Communication Nick Clegg added that the company has created teams and systems to protect the integrity of elections on its platforms at key moments for democracy. Since 2017, he said, Facebook has worked on more than 200 elections around the world, many of them in Latin America…

WHO – Quality of care in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable settings

FCV Settings – Quality of Care

WHO – Quality of care in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable settings
Fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable (FCV) settings is a broad term describing a range of situations including humanitarian crises, protracted emergencies and armed conflicts. In FCV settings delivery of quality health services faces significant challenges, including disruption of routine health service organization and delivery systems, increased health needs, complex and unpredictable resourcing issues, and vulnerability to multiple public health crises. Despite the difficulty of addressing quality in FCV settings, the need is acute, given the significant health needs of the populations in such environments and the increasing numbers of people for whom FCV settings are home.

WHO is working with Member States, the Global Health Cluster, and technical and academic partners to support action to address quality in FCV settings. Building on the foundations of the WHO National quality policy and strategy initiative, WHO has developed a technical document, “Quality of care in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable settings: taking action”. The document outlines a practical approach to action planning and implementation of quality interventions in FCV settings and is accompanied by a curated compendium of tools.

.

Introducing the WHO technical package on quality of care in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable settings
24 March 2021
The World Health Organization is calling for action to address quality of care in fragile, conflict-affected and vulnerable (FCV) settings, with the release of a technical package on this subject. On 16 March 2021, WHO hosted a global webinar to introduce the content of the technical package and consider how it can be applied by a range of stakeholders to drive action. A recording of the webinar is available here.

The challenge of quality in FCV settings
In FCV settings, where nearly a quarter of the world’s population lives, there are many challenges to the delivery of quality health services, such as damaged infrastructure and systems, insufficient numbers of trained health workers, and increased health needs. FCV settings include a range of situations such as humanitarian crises, protracted emergencies and armed conflicts. Poor quality care accounts for an estimated 15% of all deaths in low- and middle-income countries [1]; this is likely to be worse in FCV settings. Estimates indicate 60% of preventable maternal deaths, 53% of deaths in children under 5, and 45% of neonatal deaths take place in fragile settings where political conflict, displacement and natural disasters prevail [2]. As WHO Director-General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said, “for our sisters and brothers already facing such extreme adversity, the cost of inaction on quality of care is needless human suffering and lives lost. This is a preventable tragedy”.

WHO’s response
WHO has responded to this need through development of this technical package. The package is the product of a two-year collaboration between WHO HQ, WHO EMRO and the University of North Carolina and has undergone wide consultation. It consists of a document outlining a flexible approach to taking action on quality of care in FCV settings and an accompanying tools and resources compendium.

Dr Tedros issued a call to the global community in his remarks, highlighting that “the challenge now is to put these tools into action, to work together and learn together, and to proceed with compassion and conviction in our shared mission to achieve universal health coverage”.

ICC: The Office of the Prosecutor publishes Draft Policy on Cultural Heritage for consultation

Heritage Stewardship

ICC: The Office of the Prosecutor publishes Draft Policy on Cultural Heritage for consultation
Press Release : 23 March 2021
Today, 23 March 2021, the Office of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (“ICC” or the “Court”), published a draft Policy on Cultural Heritage for consultation and comments by States Parties to the Rome Statute, civil society, and the wider community of stakeholders.

The development of this Policy is in line with the Office of the Prosecutor’s Strategic Plan to pay particular attention to crimes against and affecting cultural heritage and the commitment of the Office to systematically investigate and prosecute such crimes. “Cultural heritage is the embodiment of the continuity of the human story, a celebration of identity, our commonality and the richness of our diversity. We all have a duty to protect cultural heritage,” stated Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda in contextualising this policy initiative. The draft Policy on Cultural Heritage is the manifestation of these commitments within the framework of the Rome Statute.

The Office therefore welcomes and encourages comments on the draft Policy. Comments can be sent to: OTPLegalAdvisorySection@icc-cpi.int, by Friday, 16 April 2021, midnight (CET). All input received by this deadline will be carefully considered in the internal review and revision process.

::::::

Draft Policy on Cultural Heritage
The Office of the Prosecutor – International Criminal Court (ICC)
22 March 2021 :: 43 pages
PDF: https://www.icc-cpi.int/itemsDocuments/2021-03-22-otp-draft-policy-cultural-heritage-eng.pdf
Executive Summary [excerpts]
2. The concern for the protection of cultural heritage expressed in these and other international instruments has proven well-founded: crimes against and affecting cultural heritage are a pervasive feature of the atrocities within the Court’s jurisdiction. Wilful attacks on cultural heritage constitute a centuries-old practice that remains a feature of modern conflict. Recent examples include: the targeting of historical monuments in Syria and Iraq, in particular those with strong symbolic and inter-religious meaning; attacks directed against Mausoleums of saints and Mosques of Timbuktu in Mali, and the destruction at the alleged hands of the Da’esh (ISIS) of two cultural sites on the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (“UNESCO”)’s tentative list (the Assyrian capital cities of Nimrud and Nineveh), drew global attention to cultural heritage crimes.7 Additionally, the destruction of the ancient Roman city of Palmyra, and its surrounding areas bore all hallmarks of repugnancy to the human conscience…

5. The Office seeks to address alleged crimes against or affecting cultural heritage in all stages of its work: preliminary examination, investigation, prosecution, and—when so invited—reparations. Wherever evidence permits, the Office will seek to include charges for crimes directed at cultural heritage, and will seek also to pursue and highlight evidence in situations affecting cultural heritage…

15. Specifically in this context, the Office broadly construes the term ‘cultural heritage’, to extend beyond cultural property and incorporate both a products and processes. It denotes a community’s sense of identity and belonging, and involves cultural resources, in both their tangible and intangible forms. Cultural heritage refers not only to physical forms of heritage, such as material objects and artefacts (including digital artefacts), but also to the practices and attributes of a group or society, that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present, and bestowed upon future generations for benefit and continuity.

16. In particular, therefore, the Office will understand cultural heritage potentially to include monuments (such as architectural works, works of monumental sculpture and painting, elements or structures of an archaeological nature, inscriptions, cave dwellings, and other combinations of features of cultural value); buildings or groups of buildings (which, because of their architecture, homogeneity or place in the landscape, are of cultural value); sites (human works), moveable objects (such as works of art, sculpture, collections, or other moveable property of cultural value), intangible cultural heritage (such as the practices, representations, expressions, knowledge, and skills that communities, groups, and in some cases individuals, recognise as part of their cultural heritage, together with the instruments, objects, artefacts, and cultural spaces associated therewith); and natural heritage (natural sites of cultural value, including certain landscapes or physical, biological, or geological formations).

17. The Office further views cultural heritage as the bedrock of cultural identity and endorses the understanding that crimes committed against cultural heritage constitute, first and foremost, an attack on a particular group’s identity and practices, but in addition, an attack on an essential interest of all humankind and the entire international community.8 Crimes against or affecting cultural heritage often touch upon the very notion of what it means to be human, sometimes eroding entire swaths of human history, ingenuity, and artistic creation.

18…The Office emphasises that it can only address harm to cultural heritage insofar as it constitutes or is relevant to crimes within the Court’s jurisdiction, notwithstanding other existing international obligations related to cultural heritage.

Objectives of the Policy
19. This Policy is intended to enhance the protection of cultural heritage by the Office, both through its publication and implementation in the Office’s activities, and, as appropriate, by raising awareness on these issues with external partners, and by fully exercising its centrality to the community of practice dedicated to the protection of cultural heritage. Furthermore, the Office stresses that the Court’s activities concerning cultural heritage must be exercised in a manner that comports with international law, human rights law and which is in conformity with article 21, including paragraph (3), of the Statute specifically.

20. The main objectives of this Policy are to:
(i) provide clarity and guidance to OTP staff in the application and interpretation of the Statute and the Rules of Procedure and Evidence (“RPE” or “Rules”), at all stages of the Office’s work, in order to effectively investigate and prosecute crimes against or affecting cultural heritage;
(ii) help strengthen the protection and the prevention of harm to cultural heritage;
(iii) promote the work of, and to support partners, including States, with the view to creating networks and synergies to coordinate efforts to protect cultural heritage, and to prevent and prosecute related crimes globally;
(iv) contribute, through its implementation, to the ongoing development of international jurisprudence regarding crimes against or affecting cultural heritage; and
(v) raise awareness regarding the importance of the protection of cultural heritage, including to support genuine national proceedings….

Coronavirus [COVID-19] – Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Coronavirus [COVID-19] – WHO
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Weekly Epidemiological and Operational updates
Last update: 23 January 2021
Confirmed cases :: 125 781 957 [week ago: 121 969 223] [two weeks ago: 118 754 336]
Confirmed deaths :: 2 759 432 [week ago: 2 694 094] [two weeks ago: 2 634 370]
Countries, areas or territories with cases :: 223

::::::

Weekly operational update on COVID-19 – 22 March 2021
Overview
In this edition of the Weekly Operational Update on COVID-19, highlights of country-level actions and WHO support to Member States include:
:: Calls for maintaining essential health services amid disruptions from COVID-19 pandemic
:: The role of traditional leaders for community-based interventions against COVID-19
:: The 1-year anniversary of Partners Platform and the COVID-19 Publication Review Committee
:: Support in minimizing risks from mass gatherings, preparing and supporting a COVID-19 vaccine campaign and support to virology laboratories
:: The Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) 2021 Operational Planning Guidelines, resource requirements and progress made to continue investing in the COVID-19 response and for building the architecture to prepare for, prevent and mitigate future health emergencies is included.
:: Updates on WHO/PAHO procured items, participation in the Unity Studies, and select indicators from the COVID-19 Monitoring and Evaluation Framework

 

Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 – 23 March 2021
Overview
Globally, COVID-19 confirmed cases continued to rise for a fourth consecutive week, with just under 3.3 million new cases reported in the last week . Concurrently, the number of new deaths reported plateaued after a six week decrease, with just over 60 000 new deaths reported. A marked increase in the number of new cases was reported from the South East Asia, Western Pacific, European and Eastern Mediterranean regions, all of which are on an upward trajectory in recent weeks. The European Region and the Region of the Americas continue to account for nearly 80% of all the cases and deaths.

In this edition, special focus updates are provided on:
:: Release of the WHO COVID-19 Detailed Surveillance Dashboard
:: SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern

 

COVAX updates participants on delivery delays for vaccines from Serum Institute of India (SII) and AstraZeneca
Statement 03/25/2021
:: The COVAX Facility has notified participating economies that deliveries of doses from the Serum Institute of India (SII) will be delayed in March and April
:: Delays in securing supplies of SII-produced COVID-19 vaccine doses are due to the increased demand for COVID-19 vaccines in India
:: Separately, participating economies in the COVAX Facility that have been allocated doses from the AstraZeneca manufacturing network have been notified that some first deliveries anticipated in March will now take place in April.

.

Gavi Board approves COVAX Buffer for high-risk groups in humanitarian settings
:: 5% of the total number of available doses procured through the COVAX Facility will be allocated to the COVAX Buffer
:: The COVAX Buffer will ensure access to vaccines for populations in humanitarian settings
:: José Manuel Barroso: “While the first resort in covering all high-risk groups, irrespective of their legal status, is including them in national vaccination plans, the COVAX Buffer will serve as a safety net to ensure these populations do not get left behind”
23 March 2021

.

New Red Cross and Red Crescent plan to counter “deep and pervasive” inequities in pandemic response
Geneva, 24 March 2021 (ICRC/IFRC) – The International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement has today launched a new plan that aims to tackle “deep and pervasive” inequities in the global response to the COVID-19 pandemic…

The new Red Cross and Red Crescent analysis released today shows that, although present in all countries, these inequities have been particularly pronounced and damaging for people living in countries affected by humanitarian crises.

According to this analysis:
:: Countries that are not dealing with humanitarian crises have reported carrying out nearly 48 times more COVID-19 tests per capita than countries facing “severe” or “very severe” humanitarian crises.

:: People living in countries facing either no humanitarian crisis or crises that are considered “low” in severity are more than three times as likely to be supported with contact tracing for COVID-19.

:: Less than 2 per cent of COVID-19 vaccine doses globally have reportedly been administered in the 32 countries currently facing “severe” or “very severe” humanitarian crises.

WHO – Call for public comments: Interim guidance for developing a Smart Vaccination Certificate – Release Candidate 1

COVID Vaccination: Incentives/Mandates/Certificates/Passports

WHO – Call for public comments: Interim guidance for developing a Smart Vaccination Certificate – Release Candidate 1
19 March 2021 Call for consultation
Interim Guidance pdf: https://cdn.who.int/media/docs/default-source/documents/interim-guidance-svc_20210319_final.pdf?sfvrsn=b95db77d_11&download=true

In response to the Statement on the sixth meeting of the International Health Regulations (2005) Emergency Committee regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, and the need for WHO to support Member States to deliver COVID-19 vaccines, at scale, with digital tools, WHO has developed this guidance and technical specifications document, in collaboration with a multi-disciplinary group of experts. The Guidance aims to support WHO Member States in adopting interoperability standards for digital documentation of vaccination status (i.e. Smart Vaccination Certificates).

It is critical to reiterate that the Smart Vaccination Certificate (SVC) is not intended to serve as an “immunity passport”. Furthermore, as per the “Interim position paper: considerations regarding proof of COVID-19 vaccination for international travellers”, currently, proof of COVID-19 vaccination is not recommended as a condition of departure or entry for international travel. Countries are advised to take a risk-based approach to international travel in the context of COVID-19. Additionally, along with the digital implementation of SVCs, it is recommended that the COVID-19 vaccination status should still be recorded through the paper-based International Certificate for Vaccination, and Prophylaxis based on the model presented in Annex 6 of the IHR…

As part of the public consultation, you can provide constructive feedback on this document by 12 April 2021. Please use the link to the feedback form to provide your comments. For any additional inquiries, please contact smartvaccination@who.int.

::::::

Joint Statement on prioritization of COVID-19 vaccination for seafarers and aircrew
By International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), International Labour Organization (ILO), International Maritime Organization (IMO), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and World Health Organization (WHO)
25 March 2021 Statement
…More than 80% of global trade by volume is moved by maritime transport. The global economy depends on the world’s 2 million seafarers who operate the global fleet of merchant ships. Seafarers have been severely impacted by the travel restrictions imposed during the pandemic. As of January 2021, it is estimated that some 400,000 seafarers are stranded on board commercial vessels, long past the expiry of their contracts and unable to be repatriated. A similar number of seafarers urgently need to join ships to replace them…

With this statement, our organizations also call on governments to prioritize seafarers and aircrew in their national COVID-19 vaccination programmes, together with other essential workers…

Our organizations fully support the timely development of an international harmonized framework for vaccination certificates, to facilitate international travel for seafarers and aircrew. We invite governments and other stakeholders to bring the contents of this joint statement to the attention of the competent authorities and all parties concerned…

UNESCO & Columbia University collaborate on case law on freedom of expression in the context of COVID-19

COVID Pandemic – Freedom of Expression

UNESCO & Columbia University collaborate on case law on freedom of expression in the context of COVID-19
03/26/2021
In partnership with UNESCO, Columbia University’s Global Freedom of Expression initiative published an online collection of case law related to COVID-19 from across the world, in English, French and Spanish. These decisions highlight the essential role of judicial actors in upholding the rule of law and human rights, especially in exceptional states of emergency.

The global pandemic has required restrictions on certain freedoms to save lives, but some governments have used it as an excuse to enact repressive measures in the name of national security and public health. Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, in partnership with UNESCO, has been tracking how courts around the globe have responded to these measures. We were relieved to find that the news is not all bad and many Courts have pushed back against executive overreach, balanced competing rights, and upheld international standards to protect freedom of expression, access to information and privacy during the crisis.

Hawley Johnson, Associate Director of Columbia Global Freedom of Expression, said, “The 15 legal rulings in this collection represent court decisions that protected, and in some cases, expanded freedom of expression while preserving public welfare during emergency health measures. Seminal court judgements among these have been translated into French and Spanish, covering themes ranging from public broadcasting, arbitrary arrests, disinformation and misinformation, and other restrictions related to the pandemic.

Since the outbreak of the pandemic, UNESCO has issued guidelines for judges and courts to serve as references to apply theoretical frameworks of international standards to protect freedom of expression. The production of the guidelines followed a webinar series (available in English, French and Spanish) on legal challenges to freedom of expression in relation with the COVID-19 pandemic, organized in June 2020.

Moreover, case analyses of 24 landmark rulings on freedom of expression issues from around the world have been translated from the English database into French, and published on the newly launched French webpage of the database. These court decisions pertain to the themes of freedom of expression, access to information and safety of journalists, intersecting with related issues such as digital rights, content regulation, censorship, hate speech, data protection and privacy.

Columbia Global Freedom of Expression is a centralized online database of case law and international and regional standards providing a global perspective on jurisprudence related to freedom of expression. It was created with the mission to survey, document, and strengthen free expression, and engages a global network of legal experts and scholars to analyse national, regional and international court cases.

This collaboration on online case law related to COVID-19 received support from the Open Society Foundations…

POLIO Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC); WHO/OCHA Emergencies

Emergencies

POLIO
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Polio this week as of 24 March 2021
:: On Tuesday 16 March, Egypt and United Arab Emirates were elected to co-chair the new ministerial-level subcommittee on polio eradication in the Eastern Mediterranean Region giving a major push to polio eradication efforts in the region. Read more
:: The Financial Accountability Committee (FAC) meets quarterly to advise the POB on key financial issues, ensure the quality of GPEI’s financial accountability practices, and serve as a forum for donor engagement on financial commitments and accountability requirements. Take a look at the new 2021 FAC terms of reference available here.

Summary of new WPV and cVDPV viruses this week (AFP cases and ES positives):
:: Afghanistan: one WPV1 and four cVDPV2 positive environmental samples
:: Pakistan: three WPV1 and four cVDPV2 positive environmental samples
:: Côte d’Ivoire: two cVDPV2 positive environmental samples
:: Liberia: one cVDPV2 positive environmental sample
:: Niger: one cVDPV2 positive environmental sample
:: South Sudan: three cVDPV2 cases
:: Tajikistan: two cVDPV2 cases and two cVDPV2 positive environmental samples

::::::
::::::

WHO/OCHA Emergencies

Editor’s Note:
Continuing with this edition, we include information about the last apparent update evident on the WHO emergency country webpages, recognizing almost universal and significant interims since last update regardless of the level of the emergency listed.

WHO Grade 3 Emergencies [to 27 Mar 2021]

Democratic Republic of the Congo – No new digest announcements [Last apparent update: 12 Jan 2021]
Mozambique floods – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 3 November 2020]
Nigeria – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 29 Jun 2020]
Somalia – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 17 July 2020]
South Sudan – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 4 February 2020]
Syrian Arab Republic – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 24 October 2020]
Yemen – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 30 June 2020]

::::::

WHO Grade 2 Emergencies [to 27 Mar 2021]
Afghanistan – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 5 July 2020]
Angola – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 16 March 2021]
Burundi – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 04 July 2019]
Burkina Faso – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 10 mars 2021]
Cameroon – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 22 August 2019]
Central African Republic – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 12 June 2018]
Ethiopia – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 22 August 2019]
Iran floods 2019 – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 2 March 2020]
Iraq – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 21 February 2020]
Libya – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 7 October 2019]
Malawi Floods – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update 05 March 2021]
Measles in Europe – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 16-12-2020]
MERS-CoV – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 8 July 2019]
Mozambique – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 03 November 2020]
Myanmar – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 11 février 2021]
Niger– No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update:06 mars 2021]occupied Palestinian territory – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 4 September 2019]
HIV in Pakistan – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 27 August 2019]
Sao Tome and Principe Necrotizing Cellulitis (2017) – No new digest announcements
Sudan – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 24 June 2020]
Ukraine – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 1 May 2019]
Zimbabwe – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 10 May 2019]

::::::

WHO Grade 1 Emergencies [to 27 Mar 2021]

Chad – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 30 June 2018]
Djibouti – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 25 novembre 2020]
Kenya – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 06 March 2021]
Mali – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 3 May 2017]
Namibia – viral hepatitis – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 20 July 2018]
Tanzania – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 21 October 2020]

::::::
::::::

UN OCHA – L3 Emergencies
The UN and its humanitarian partners are currently responding to three ‘L3’ emergencies. This is the global humanitarian system’s classification for the response to the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises. 
Syrian Arab Republic – No new digest announcements identified
Yemen – No new digest announcements identified

::::::

UN OCHA – Corporate Emergencies
When the USG/ERC declares a Corporate Emergency Response, all OCHA offices, branches and sections provide their full support to response activities both at HQ and in the field.
COVID-19 – No new digest announcements identified
East Africa Locust Infestation – No new digest announcements identified

::::::
::::::

Not Too Late to Undo Forest Damage, Secretary-General Says, in Message for International Day, while Warning ‘We Risk a Point of No Return’

Heritage Stewardship

Not Too Late to Undo Forest Damage, Secretary-General Says, in Message for International Day, while Warning ‘We Risk a Point of No Return

19 March 2021
SG/SM/20635
Following is UN Secretary-General António Guterres’ message for the International Day of Forests, observed on 21 March:

Humanity’s well-being is inextricably linked to the health of our planet.  Forests play a crucial role.

Forests filter the air we breathe and the water we drink.  They regulate our climate, absorbing one third of the global greenhouse gases emitted each year. Forests provide habitat to 80 per cent of all known terrestrial species, many of which are under threat.  Today, more than 1 million of the planet’s estimated 8 million plant and animal species are at risk of extinction.  Some 1.6 billion people depend directly on forests for food, shelter, energy, medicines and income.

Despite all that they provide, forest loss continues at an alarming rate.  We continue to lose 10 million hectares of forests, an area roughly the size of Iceland, every year.  Deforestation also increases the risks of infectious disease outbreaks and pandemics.

This year marks the beginning of the United Nations Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which calls for action to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of forests and other ecosystems.

If we fail to act now, we risk a point of no return.  But it is not too late to undo some of the damage we have caused.  The crises our planet faces require urgent action by all — Governments, international and civil society organizations, the private sector, local authorities and individuals.

Indigenous peoples are leading the way.  They care for the Earth’s biodiversity and achieve conservation results with very few financial resources and little support.

On this International Day of Forests let us plant the seeds for a sustainable future by committing to restore and conserve our forests for the benefit of people and the planet.

.

International Organization for Standardization (ISO)  [to 20 Mar 2021]
https://www  .iso.org/news_archive/x/
News
By Clare Naden on 19 March 2021

International Day of Forests
Healthy forests for a healthy planet.
ISO 38200, Chain of custody of wood and wood-based products, facilitates sustainable forestry through enabling the traceability of wood products. It provides reassurance to customers of wood suppliers that products come from legally harvested sources along the whole supply chain, thus encouraging the use of sustainable wood and deterring illegal methods.

Also contributing to the restoration of forests is ISO 14055-1, Environmental management – Guidelines for establishing good practices for combatting land degradation and desertification – Part 1: Good practices framework, which provides good-practice guidelines for tackling land degradation and desertification in arid and non-arid regions…

UNESCO brings museums of the world together to reflect on their future

Heritage Stewardship

UNESCO brings museums of the world together to reflect on their future
15/03/2021
UNESCO brought together 12 museum directors from around the world at an online debate on 18 March entitled Reflections on the Future of Museums (2 to 5 pm, Central European Time). The discussion focused on the impact of the pandemic on their institutions, how they are addressing ongoing challenges and preparing the future of their museums.

Estimated to number around 95,000 worldwide in 2020, museums have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic. Ninety percent of them closed their doors, while others have been put to different uses. Whereas some museums are currently reopening their doors to visitors, others, according to the International Council of Museums (ICOM), may never open again.

To overcome the challenges of a world deeply marked by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is becoming crucial for museums to adapt and reinvent themselves. Questions regarding their future are becoming more pressing than ever and the debate will provide an opportunity to discuss the conditions and environment needed to operate the transformation of museums at the international level.

List of panelists: 

Barbara Helwing, Director of the Vorderasiatisches Museum (Berlin)

Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria & Albert Museum (London)

Deborah Lynn Mack, Director of the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian (Washington, D.C.)

Xudong Wang, Director of the Palace Museum (Beijing)

Juliana Restrepo, Director of the National Museum of Colombia (Bogota)

Antonio Saborit, Director of the National Museum of Anthropology (Mexico City)

Ahmed Farouk Ghoneim, Executive Director of the National Museum of Egyptian Civilization (Cairo)

Barbara Jatta, Director of the Vatican Museums (Vatican City)

Mikhail Piotrovski, Director of the Hermitage Museum (Saint Petersburg)

Hamady Bocoum, Director of the Museum of Black Civilizations (Dakar).

 

Webcast: http://webcast.unesco.org/live/room-12/en

UN Network on Migration Launches “Migration Network Hub”, a Knowledge and Solutions Platform on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration

Migration

UN Network on Migration Launches “Migration Network Hub”, a Knowledge and Solutions Platform on the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration
2021-03-18 19:41
Geneva – The United Nations Network on Migration launches today (18/03) the Migration Network Hub. It is the first knowledge platform and connection hub that supports UN Member States in the implementation, follow-up and review of the Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM).

This tool is intended to share migration knowledge, expertise, good practices and initiatives related to the GCM among Member States, practitioners and the UN system. Through a community of practice, users can participate in online discussions with peers, attend webinars, share resources and publications and showcase flagship initiatives…

The Hub provides high-quality, curated content, analysis and information on all aspects of migration as covered in the GCM. Peer review ensures quality control, so content approved for inclusion is relevant, up-to-date and in line with the GCM and its guiding principles.

The platform is accessible here.

Private Engagement in Education in Emergencies: Rights and Regulations

Education in Emergencies

Private Engagement in Education in Emergencies: Rights and Regulations
Advocacy Brief – INEE
Dr Francine Menashy and Dr Zeena Zakharia.
Published 10 March 2021 :: 25 pages
The Challenge
Efforts to secure inclusive and equitable education for all have prompted calls for greater engagement by the private sector, asserting that businesses and foundations can play significant roles as partners in achieving Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4).

In recent years, given shortfalls in public financing and the need for urgent responses, private actors have increasingly become involved in various aspects of educational programming for education in emergencies (EiE). The arrangement, however, can produce tensions between private engagement and humanitarian response in education, which needs to be addressed and in turn requires extra coordination, advocacy and attention. This brief explores some of these tensions and makes recommendations to support the prioritization of safe, equitable, and quality public education for all children and young people affected by crises.

INEE supports every young person’s right to education and recognizes the State as the primary duty-bearer of schooling, in alignment with international declarations, frameworks, and legal instruments that assert and protect the right to education.

Legal instruments that protect the right to education
These include:
:: Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948),
:: Fourth Geneva Convention (1949),
:: Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees (1951),
:: UNESCO Convention against Discrimination in Education (1960),
:: International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (1965),
:: International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (1966),
:: Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (1979),
:: Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989),
:: Jomtien Declaration (1990),
:: World Education Forum Framework for Action (2000),
:: Millennium Development Goals (2000),
:: Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (2006),
:: UN General Assembly Resolution on the Right to Education in Emergency Situations (2010),
:: 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (2015), and
:: the Abidjan Principles (2019),
in addition to numerous regional human rights treaties and national legal commitments.

Key Recommendations for Private Sector Participation in EiE
:: Prioritize the “do no harm” principle of humanitarianism. All private sector activities in EiE must adhere to the “do no harm” principle and ensure the educational rights of affected populations.

:: Prioritize the participation of affected communities. Without active com¬munity input, business-supported interventions risk decontextualized design and implementation that are misaligned with local interests and knowledge systems, leading to poor educational results and potentially discriminatory practices that produce, sustain, or exacerbate conflict.

:: Support the long-term sustainability of public education. Effective private sector involvement in EiE requires a sustained and ongoing commitment to public education.

:: Regulate private sector activities. Private actors involved in education in emergencies must be regulated by the State and held to the same account¬ability principles as other non-governmental actors and state agencies/entities, in line with legally binding international human rights standards to ensure quality, equity, and access, especially with regard to learners and families affected by crisis.

:: Promote transparency in profit-seeking activities. Transparency regarding conditions of funding and profit-seeking activities, such as creating new mar¬kets for products, brand association and product testing, may help to identify conflicts of interest that counter the “do no harm” principle.

:: Ensure that private funding to EiE is transparent, equitable, and harmo¬nized. Private financing for EiE must not undermine the responsibility of the State to provide free quality education to all children and young people.

:: Develop specific guidance on private participation in EiE. Given the unique issues relating to private sector participation in EiE, an addition to the Abi¬djan Principles (see below) that directly addresses these issues would help clarify expectations for State and private sector responses and intervention in such situations.

OIE-WAHIS: A new era for animal health data

One Health

OIE-WAHIS: A new era for animal health data
At a time when the world is facing an unprecedented pandemic, the importance of animal disease surveillance has become evident. To support countries maintaining global transparency and reporting matters of animal and public health, the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) launches the leading most technologically advanced reference platform for animal disease and veterinary capacities reporting – the World Animal Health Information System (OIE-WAHIS).

Paris, 18 March 2021 –  Since its creation in 1924, the OIE is the mandated international organisation collecting data on, observing and analysing animal diseases throughout the world. Through its current World Animal Health Information System (WAHIS), the Organisation ensures the prompt dissemination of information on potentially devastating outbreaks and facilitates decision making in terms of international trade of animals and animal products by collecting, verifying and publishing official animal health information, following a standardised process, thus providing high quality, reliable data…

Website: https://wahis.oie.int/#/home

Assessing Country Readiness for COVID-19 Vaccines – First Insights from the Assessment Rollout

Milestones :: Perspectives :: Research

Assessing Country Readiness for COVID-19 Vaccines – First Insights from the Assessment Rollout
World Bank – Publication :: March 11, 2021 :: 28 pages
PDF: http://documents1.worldbank.org/curated/en/467291615997445437/pdf/Assessing-Country-Readiness-for-COVID-19-Vaccines-First-Insights-from-the-Assessment-Rollout.pdf

Executive Summary
The global COVID-19 vaccination campaign, the largest public health initiative ever undertaken, presents challenges unprecedented in scale, speed and specificities, especially in low and middle-income countries. In November 2020, anticipating the availability of safe and effective vaccines for COVID-19, the World Bank together with WHO, UNICEF, the Global Fund, and Gavi rolled out readiness assessments in more than 100 low and middle-income countries. The key insights from the assessments to date present a high-level snapshot of country readiness to deploy COVID-19 vaccines based on initial findings from ongoing assessments in 128 countries. The World Bank is providing $12 billion for developing countries to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests and treatments and strengthen health and vaccination systems to ensure that vaccines get to those who need them. The assessments provide highly valuable insights into countries’ preparedness and will feed into World Bank projects.

Initial findings from the ongoing assessments show that the world’s poorest countries are at varying degrees of readiness for the massive undertaking of vaccinating their populations against the deadly COVID-19 disease.

The assessments reveal that while 85% of countries have developed national vaccination plans and 68% have vaccine safety systems, only 30% have developed processes to train the large number of vaccinators who will be needed for the campaign and only 27% have created social mobilization and public engagement strategies to encourage people to get vaccinated. Given the worrying vaccine hesitancy levels, strategies to generate confidence, acceptance and demand for the vaccine are urgently needed.

The assessments further show that most countries are focusing on strengthening essential aspects of the vaccine delivery chain – enough to advance vaccination schedules and begin inoculating their populations. The pandemic’s devastating toll on health and economies, fear of highly contagious variants and public pressure to start vaccinations have prompted many countries to prepare aggressive vaccine delivery schedules. Although countries have many gaps in readiness, most have prepared well enough in select essential areas to begin inoculating their populations as soon as vaccines become available. Most countries are approaching the COVID-19 vaccine rollout as an emergency and are emphasizing speed and expediency over deliberative system-strengthening. As a result, they are missing out on the benefits of long-lasting improvements that a systems approach could bring.

The assessments show that COVID-19 vaccination campaigns offer unique opportunities for countries to develop specialized digital systems to track vaccines and vaccinated individuals, and monitor vaccine safety and report adverse reactions. In addition, the large-scale vaccination mobilization provides
opportunities to countries to sustainably strengthen the cold chain and introduce environmentally-friendly options that could be of use well beyond the current crisis.

Finally, it is noteworthy that in most countries the assessments have succeeded in elevating the importance of readiness to the highest levels of decision-making. The assessments have brought together government officers, healthcare professionals, the private sector and communities as well as global partners in the largest vaccination campaign in history, and have generated an unprecedented momentum as countries begin inoculating large swathes of the adult population to overcome the virus that has redefined the world in the last fifteen months.

MAIN REPORT FINDINGS
[1] As countries ramp up efforts to vaccinate their populations against the deadly COVID-19 disease, the world’s poorest countries show varying degrees of readiness for this massive undertaking.

[2] The existence of well-functioning child immunization systems is not a strong predictor of country readiness to deliver COVID-19 vaccines.

[3] Most countries are focusing on strengthening essential aspects of the vaccine delivery chain –enough to advance vaccination schedules and begin inoculating their populations.

[4] Few countries are using the opportunity provided by the deployment of COVID-19 vaccines to strengthen health systems and find long-lasting solutions for similar future challenges

[5] COVID-19 vaccination campaigns offer unique opportunities for countries to digitize their information systems for tracking vaccines and monitoring vaccinations

[6] The COVID-19 vaccine rollout is an opportunity to create environmentally friendly cold chain that could be of use well beyond the current crisis

[7] More countries are using indicative top-down methodologies instead of the new assessment framework and associated tools to cost gaps in readiness.

.

Media Release
Gaps Remain in Countries Readiness to Deploy COVID-19 Vaccines
Assessments by World Bank and partners provide insights into more than 120 countries’ readiness to safely distribute vaccines
WASHINGTON, March 18, 2021 – As countries undertake the largest vaccination campaign in history, the World Bank has worked with governments, WHO, UNICEF, the Global Fund and GAVI on assessing countries’ readiness to safely deploy COVID-19 vaccines in 128 low- and middle-income countries. The results indicate that income level and other economic indicators correlate weakly with vaccine preparedness. The report focuses on ten key indicators, including cold chain & logistics, population prioritization, budgeting, training of healthcare personnel, and safety surveillance, among others.

Initial findings show that 85% of countries that participated in the assessments have developed national vaccination plans and 68% have safety measures in place, including systems for reporting adverse reactions. However, only 30% have developed plans to train the large number of vaccinators who will be needed and only 27% have created social mobilization and public engagement strategies to encourage people to get vaccinated. Given worrying  vaccine hesitancy, strategies to generate confidence, acceptance and demand for vaccines are urgently needed. Countries affected by conflict and fragility (37 out of 128) scored lower than other countries on almost all indicators.

“Many developing countries are in the midst of preparing aggressive COVID19 vaccine delivery plans,” said Mamta Murthi, Vice President for Human Development at the World Bank. “While most countries are well enough prepared to begin inoculating their populations, there are still important gaps that must urgently be addressed for wide, large scale vaccination rollouts to succeed.”

The World Bank is providing $12 billion for developing countries to purchase and distribute COVID-19 vaccines, tests, and treatments and strengthen health and vaccination systems to ensure that vaccines get to those who need them. Our vaccination programs will reach over 40 countries in the near-term, amounting to $3 billion out of the $12 billion available. The readiness assessments will inform our projects and help governments and healthcare professionals better understand and manage the complex task of vaccinating large adult populations in a very short timeframe…

Coronavirus [COVID-19] – WHO Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Milestones :: Perspectives :: Research

Coronavirus [COVID-19] – WHO
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)
https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019

Weekly Epidemiological and Operational updates
Last update: 23 January 2021
Confirmed cases :: 121 969 223 [week ago: 118 754 336] [two weeks ago: 115 653 459]
Confirmed deaths :: 2 694 094 [week ago: 2 634 370] [two weeks ago: 2 571 823]
Countries, areas or territories with cases :: 223

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is screen-shot-2021-03-21-at-9.55.39-pm.png

6 March 2021
Weekly epidemiological update on COVID-19 –  16 March 2021
Overview
In the past week, new cases continued to rise globally, increasing by 10% in the past week to over 3 million new reported cases. After peaking in early January 2021 when there were just under 5 million cases, new cases then declined to around 2.5 million in the week commencing 15 February 2021 but in the past three weeks have increased again. This week, the Americas and Europe continue to account for over 80% of new cases and new deaths, with rises in new cases seen in all regions apart from Africa, where a decrease by 4% has been reported.
In this edition, special focus updates are provided on:
:: Building and maintaining trust – what countries should do to prepare communities for a COVID-19 vaccine, treatment, or a new test; and
:: SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern:

16 March 202
Weekly operational update on COVID-19 – 16 March 2021
Overview
In this edition of the Weekly Operational Update on COVID-19, highlights of country-level actions and WHO support to Member States include:
:: Historic roll-out of shipments from COVAX facility gathers pace globally
:: International Women’s Day 2021: Challenging barriers women face accessing life-saving knowledge for COVID-19 response
:: Vaccination data now available on the WHO COVID-19 dashboard
:: Preparedness activities including enriched Intra-Action Reviews, WHO facilitated learning on safe hospitals and reviewing preparedness assessment tools for enhancements
:: The Strategic Preparedness and Response Plan (SPRP) 2021 Operational Planning Guidelines, resource requirements and progress made to continue investing in the COVID-19 response and for building the architecture to prepare for, prevent and mitigate future health emergencies
:: Updates on WHO/PAHO procured items, participation in the Unity Studies, and select indicators from the COVID-19 Monitoring and Evaluation Framework

Science Editorial – COVID-19 vaccination passports

Science
19 March 2021 Vol 371, Issue 6535
http://www.sciencemag.org/current.dtl
Editorial
COVID-19 vaccination passports
By Christopher Dye, Melinda C. Mills
As countries grow eager to reignite their economies and people increasingly yearn for mobility and normalcy in life, pressure is mounting for some form of COVID-19 health status certificate that would support these desires. There has already been an explosion of COVID-19 passport initiatives for domestic use and international travel. But scientific, legal, and ethical concerns abound with such documentation. Given the high stakes, what is the path forward?

From doctors’ examinations to ship inspections, clean bills of health have secured passage through centuries of human plagues. Today’s best-known health passport is the International Certificate of Vaccination or Prophylaxis, created by the World Health Organization (WHO). WHO’s Yellow Card has certified vaccinations for cholera, plague, and typhoid, among other infections. There is certainly precedent for a COVID-19 vaccination passport certifying that the holder can travel, study, play, and work without compromising personal or public health. Among newly proposed COVID-19 passport schemes are the WHO’s Smart Vaccination Certificate, Israel’s “green passport,” the European Union’s proposed Digital Green Pass, and the Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention’s “My COVID Pass.”

Given the momentum, what are the main principles that COVID-19 passports should follow to ensure their appropriate use?

A COVID-19 passport should be scientifically valid. Passport holders must be protected from illness so that they can carry out the activities for which the passport has been issued and to avoid burdening health services. A passport would ideally certify that holders are not, and cannot become, a source of infection for others. Vaccines have high efficacy in preventing symptomatic COVID-19, and there is growing evidence that they can prevent transmission too. No vaccine is perfect, and it remains to be determined whether vaccines meet minimum requirements for preventing infection and illness. The duration of protection conferred by vaccines should be tied to passport expiry dates, perhaps with options to revoke passports if new coronavirus variants compromise efficacy. These passports should also be judged for their comparative advantage. They may be preferable to viral RNA and antigen tests, which aim to certify that individuals are temporarily free of infection, and to antibody tests, which do not guarantee immunity to infection or disease.

The vaccination certificate should be portable, affordable, and linked safely and securely to the identity of the holder. Ideally, it will be internationally standardized with verifiable credentials and based on interoperable technologies. Forgery and personal data security are dominant concerns, but such problems are routinely solved for financial and other sensitive transactions.

Many issues surround the fair use of vaccination passports. The widely held view is that documents must avoid discrimination and inequity. Ideally, a passport would be exclusive only with respect to its primary purpose, which is to protect the health of individuals and others with whom they come into contact. But such exclusions inevitably raise barriers elsewhere. Some, such as restrictions on nonessential leisure activities, should be relatively easy to manage. The greatest risk is that people for whom vaccination is unacceptable, untested, inaccessible, or impossible are denied access to essential goods and services. This could happen where there is vaccine hesitancy or refusal among certain ethnic minorities; where there are no data on vaccine efficacy for people at risk, such as children and pregnant women; where migrants are undocumented and unreachable; where passports are exclusively digital, barring people without smartphones; and where people are not yet eligible for vaccination. These examples signal the need for alternatives and exemptions.

Some decisions about how to use passports will be made by public debate and consent, drawing on social and ethical norms. Others will be determined by domestic and international law. Some employers have already announced “no jab, no job” policies. In such cases, the freedom of choice for individual employees, set against a firm’s duty and preference for the care of all staff, might be tested in court.

COVID-19 is a new human disease. The challenges presented by vaccination passports are also new in detail, but mostly familiar in kind. Adding to current, imperfect certification procedures by diagnostic tests, vaccination passports are likely to be widely adopted during the pandemic and its probable sequel, endemic and episodic disease. The choice about how passports are used should be guided by exemplary science, appropriate technologies, and fair use for all.

POLIO Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC); WHO/OCHA Emergencies

Emergencies

POLIO
Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC)

Polio this week as of 17 March 2021
Summary of new WPV and cVDPV viruses this week (AFP cases and ES positives):
:: Afghanistan: one cVDPV2 case and one cVDPV2 positive environmental sample
:: Pakistan: three WPV1 and eight cVDPV2 positive environmental samples
:: Egypt: three cVDPV2 positive environmental samples
:: Nigeria: three cVDPV2 cases
:: South Sudan: four cVDPV2 cases
:: Senegal: one cVDPV2 positive environmental sample
:: Sierra Leone: three cVDPV2 positive environmental samples

::::::
::::::

WHO/OCHA Emergencies

Editor’s Note:
Continuing with this edition, we include information about the last apparent update evident on the WHO emergency country webpages, recognizing almost universal and significant interims since last update regardless of the level of the emergency listed.

WHO Grade 3 Emergencies [to 20 Mar 2021]

Democratic Republic of the Congo – No new digest announcements [Last apparent update: 12 Jan 2021]
Mozambique floods – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 3 November 2020]
Nigeria – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 29 Jun 2020]
Somalia – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 17 July 2020]
South Sudan – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 4 February 2020]
Syrian Arab Republic – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 24 October 2020]
Yemen – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 30 June 2020]

::::::

WHO Grade 2 Emergencies [to 20 Mar 2021]
Angola
:: The Government of Japan contributes US$ 1 million to UN agencies to support vulnerab…
16 March 2021

Afghanistan – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 5 July 2020]
Burundi – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 04 July 2019]
Burkina Faso – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 10 mars 2021]
Cameroon – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 22 August 2019]
Central African Republic – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 12 June 2018]
Ethiopia – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 22 August 2019]
Iran floods 2019 – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 2 March 2020]
Iraq – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 21 February 2020]
Libya – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 7 October 2019]
Malawi Floods – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update 05 March 2021]
Measles in Europe – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 16-12-2020]
MERS-CoV – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 8 July 2019]
Mozambique – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 03 November 2020]
Myanmar – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 11 février 2021]
Niger– No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update:06 mars 2021]occupied Palestinian territory – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 4 September 2019]
HIV in Pakistan – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 27 August 2019]
Sao Tome and Principe Necrotizing Cellulitis (2017) – No new digest announcements
Sudan – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 24 June 2020]
Ukraine – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 1 May 2019]
Zimbabwe – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 10 May 2019]

::::::

WHO Grade 1 Emergencies [to 20 Mar 2021]

Chad – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 30 June 2018]
Djibouti – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 25 novembre 2020]
Kenya – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 06 March 2021]
Mali – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 3 May 2017]
Namibia – viral hepatitis – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 20 July 2018]
Tanzania – No new digest announcements identified [Last apparent update: 21 October 2020]

::::::
::::::

UN OCHA – L3 Emergencies
The UN and its humanitarian partners are currently responding to three ‘L3’ emergencies. This is the global humanitarian system’s classification for the response to the most severe, large-scale humanitarian crises. 
Syrian Arab Republic – No new digest announcements identified
Yemen – No new digest announcements identified

::::::

UN OCHA – Corporate Emergencies
When the USG/ERC declares a Corporate Emergency Response, all OCHA offices, branches and sections provide their full support to response activities both at HQ and in the field.
East Africa Locust Infestation
:: Desert Locust situation update 16 March 2021

COVID-19
:: Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Weekly Epidemiological Update (16 March 2021)

::::::
::::::

The Sentinel

Human Rights Action :: Humanitarian Response :: Health :: Education :: Heritage Stewardship ::
Sustainable Development
__________________________________________________
Week ending 13 March 2021 :: Number 358

This weekly digest is intended to aggregate and distill key content from a broad spectrum of practice domains and organization types including key agencies/IGOs, NGOs, governments, academic and research institutions, consortia and collaborations, foundations, and commercial organizations. We also monitor a spectrum of peer-reviewed journals and general media channels. The Sentinel’s geographic scope is global/regional but selected country-level content is included. We recognize that this spectrum/scope yields an indicative and not an exhaustive product. Comments and suggestions should be directed to:

David R. Curry
Editor
GE2P2 Global Foundation – Governance, Evidence, Ethics, Policy, Practice
david.r.curry@ge2p2center.net

PDFThe Sentinel_ period ending 13 Mar 2021

Contents
:: Week in Review  [See selected posts just below]
:: Key Agency/IGO/Governments Watch – Selected Updates from 30+ entities   [see PDF]
:: INGO/Consortia/Joint Initiatives Watch – Media Releases, Major Initiatives, Research:: Foundation/Major Donor Watch -Selected Updates
:: Journal Watch – Key articles

Myanmar junta crackdown likely crimes against humanity requiring coordinated international response – UN expert 

Myanmar

Myanmar junta crackdown likely crimes against humanity requiring coordinated international response – UN expert  [Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar]
GENEVA (11 March 2021) – The Myanmar junta’s brutal response to peaceful protests likely meets the legal threshold for crimes against humanity, a UN expert told the Human Rights Council today, calling for a united global response in the country’s hour of need.

“The people of Myanmar need not only words of support but supportive action,” said Tom Andrews, the UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights in Myanmar. “They need the help of the international community, now.”

Andrews stressed that a growing body of reporting indicates that the junta’s security forces are committing acts of murder, imprisonment, persecution and other crimes as part of a coordinated campaign, directed against a civilian population, in a widespread and systematic manner, with the knowledge of the junta’s leadership – thereby likely meeting the legal threshold for crimes against humanity.

With the UN Security Council seemingly unwilling to invoke its Chapter VII authority, Andrews said Member States must rally together to take action.

“Today I am therefore urging that as many Member States as possible commit to taking strong, decisive and coordinated action as a coalition of nations – an Emergency Coalition for the People of Myanmar,” he said.

In a statement to the Council, Andrews outlined five options that such a coalition could take immediately: 

[1] stop the flow of funds to the junta, including by imposing targeted sanctions on the junta’s business enterprises and on Myanmar Oil and Gas Enterprise, the single largest source of revenue to the State of Myanmar;

[2] impose an international arms embargo;

[3] ensure accountability for the crimes, through national courts using universal jurisdiction if the Security Council is unwilling to refer the matter to the International Criminal Court;

[4] work directly with local civil society and aid organizations to provide humanitarian assistance whenever possible; and

[5] deny recognition of the military junta as the legitimate government representing the people of Myanmar.

“I sincerely hope that the international community will rise to the occasion of this moment of history by following the lead and the inspiration of the people of Myanmar by coming to their aid as a coordinated whole, in this their moment of need.”

In a report to the Human Rights Council, Andrews details how the Myanmar military illegally overthrew the civilian government last month and proceeded to attack the people of Myanmar by committing the crimes of murder, assault and arbitrary detention. He also details human rights violations preceding the coup in an annex to the report.