The best response is one that responds proportionately to immediate threats while protecting human rights and the rule of law.


UN Response to COVID-19

The unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has resulted in major social, political and legal challenges globally. As states around the world adopt emergency measures to address the crisis, it is critical that they continue to uphold the rule of law, protect and respect international standards and basic principles of legality, and the right to access justice, remedies and due process.

United Nations entities have collaborated and strengthened collective efforts to provide Member States with expertise, advise and resources to deal with legal and justice challenges. UN peace operations and Agencies, Funds and Programmes are actively helping to disseminate and implement health protocols in prisons, decongest detention facilities and address the specific impact of COVID-19 on children and women in these facilities and operational guidelines on law enforcement. The resources also highlight the urgency of continued access to justice and respect for human rights, as well as the impact of COVID-19 on transnational crimes and trafficking of persons.

In all these efforts, the Global Focal Point for the Rule of Law, comprising of UNDP, DPO, UNHCR, OHCHR, UN Women, UNODC, UNOPS; has ensured greater coherence, coordination and impact

Resources on justice, rule of law and human rights:

27 April 2929
This brief highlights emerging evidence of the impact of COVID-19 on violence against women and girls. It makes recommendations to be considered by all sectors of society in order to prevent and respond to violence against women and girls, at the onset, during, and after the public health crisis.
27 April 2929


COVID-19 and Access to Justice

This note provides initial guidance on key access to justice concerns related to COVID-19 and practical responses to them. The justice system and its actors play an essential role in oversight and accountability, but also in securing the rights of those “left behind” during this crisis.
27 April 2929
Governments around the world are rightly adopting increasingly stringent measures to protect public health. Asylum seekers, refugees and the internally displaced are especially vulnerable to health risks and other protection concerns. UNHCR would like to share protection messages, based on international refugee and human rights law, for advocacy by other organizations.
27 April 2929
In line with the SG’s Call for Action this paper spotlights human rights at the forefront in the fight against COVID-19.  It examines the Right to life and duty to protect life; the right to health and access to health care, and the right to equality, nondiscrimination and inclusion. It also stresses the need for global solidarity among other things.

Resources on prisons and detention facilities:

27 April 2929
This paper synthesizes the specific measures being taken or considered in different settings in response to COVID-19 to de-congest criminal justice institutions. The paper also outlines the factors, criteria and risks to be taken into account in determining the categories of detainees to be considered for release or non-custodial measures.
27 April 2929

UNICEF / The Alliance for Child Protection

Technical Note: COVID-19 and Children Deprived of their Liberty

This note aims to provide detaining authorities with key information and steps to respond to COVID-19 including by: instituting a moratorium on new children entering detention facilities; releasing all children who can be safely released; and protecting the health and well-being of any children who must remain in detention.
27 April 2929
This paper highlights that COVID-19 prevention and control measures are urgently needed and should be implemented in full compliance with UN Minimum Standards for the Treatment of Prisoners. COVID-19 preparedness should also include efforts to reduce the number of new admissions and to accelerate the release of selected categories of prisoners.


27 April 2929
The guidance provides useful information to staff and health care providers working in prisons, and to prison authorities. It explains how to prevent and address a potential disease outbreak and stresses important human rights elements that must be respected in the response to COVID-19 in prisons and other places of detention.

Resources on law enforcement:

Other COVID-19 related ressources:

27 April 2929


Guidance Note: Police Planning During COVID-19

This document provides a synopsis of the factors that a police agency must consider when writing plans to address operations during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is meant to be generic and relevant to different contexts and countries all over the world.
27 April 2929
The paper looks at the different impacts that COVID-19 may have on different forms of crimes and offenses.
27 April 2929
This report sets out the framework for the United Nations’ urgent socio-economic support to countries and societies in the face of COVID-19, putting in practice the UN Secretary-General’s Shared Responsibility, Global Solidarity report on the same subject.
27 April 2929
Working at the heart of the UN family and in close coordination with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNDP is responding to a growing volume of requests from countries to help them prepare for, respond to and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, focusing particularly on the most vulnerable.