Drafted by representatives from all regions of the world, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in Paris on 10 December 1948. Setting out specific fundamental rights to be universally protected, the text has since been translated into over 500 languages. Today, however, with restrictive coronavirus-related legislation enacted worldwide, the rights and freedoms proclaimed in the Declaration have arguably never been under greater threat.
Setting out the Declaration’s purpose, its preamble makes clear that recognition of the inalienable rights of all members of the human race is the foundation of freedom, justice, and peace in the world. Asserting that the highest aspiration is a world in which human beings enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want, the text states that human rights should be protected by the rule of law. As the following examples show, however, under the guise of the coronavirus crisis, rather than defending these rights, the rule of law is increasingly being used to remove them.
Article 13 of the Declaration states that everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state, and that everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country. Throughout the world, however, these rights have in recent months been widely curtailed. Billions of citizens have been subjected to draconian lockdowns in which even the right to leave their own homes has been restricted. The resulting social effects have included increases in mental health problems, domestic violence, and suicides.
Legislation that prevents people from traveling anything more than short distances from their home, let alone from traveling to other countries, is clearly not compatible with the right to freedom of movement and travel.
Article 19 of the Declaration states that everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media regardless of frontiers. Despite this, and to the clear benefit of the drug industry, steps are being taken to ban online content containing medical advice that contradicts coronavirus recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), an agency of the United Nations. In this respect it is no coincidence that the WHO accepts millions of dollars each year in donations from drug companies.
Demanding that tech firms help stop the spread of advice it deems to be false, the WHO has recently been urging them to take action over the term coronavirus bringing up information about natural health therapies in internet search results. Not only is such action contrary to the spirit of Article 19, there is abundant scientific evidence that micronutrients are effective tools against viral infections.
In March 2020, Chinese doctors reported the successful treatment of coronavirus patients with high-dose vitamin C. Hospitals in New York state are similarly now using this micronutrient, with the Shanghai Medical Association officially recommending high-dose vitamin C for even light infection with the virus. Moreover, a recent study conducted by scientists at the Dr. Rath Research Institute in California has shown that a micronutrient combination that includes vitamin C, as well as certain amino acids, polyphenols, and trace elements, is able to suppress angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) – the ‘entry door’ via which coronaviruses enter body cells.
Despite this scientific evidence, YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki has stated on CNN that any videos advising people to take vitamin C or which go against WHO coronavirus recommendations will now be removed from her company’s platform. Other social media firms have been taking similar action, with some posts having warning signs placed over them and others being deleted. In a further escalation, many countries have started passing laws making it a crime to spread any news or information deemed by them to be ‘fake’. Such actions are clearly not compatible with the right to freedom of opinion.
Article 20 of the Declaration states that everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association. Around the world, however, these rights have in recent months been drastically restricted. Examples include so-called ‘social distancing’ rules, which prevent people from having close contact with anyone they don’t live with, and legislation banning public gatherings. Research suggests such restrictions could have profound consequences for public health.
A study published in 2019 examined 21,597 randomly selected adolescents and adults living in Switzerland aged 15 and older. It found that social isolation is detrimental to general, mental, cardiovascular, and musculoskeletal health, and that it goes along with a substantially elevated risk of using psychotropic medications. As with other aspects of coronavirus-related restrictions, therefore, this suggests the primary beneficiary from social distancing and bans on public gatherings could ultimately be the multinational drug industry.
Article 23 of the Declaration states that everyone has the right to work. By April 2020, however, more than 3.9 billion people, around half of the world’s population, had been asked or ordered to stay at home under coronavirus legislation. Unsurprisingly this has had profound effects on many workers’ financial wellbeing, particularly so in developing countries.
In developed countries, large numbers of people have been able to work from home or were eligible for government payments under so-called ‘furlough schemes’. In April 2020, for example, 46.6 percent of employed people in the UK did at least some work from home. By June 2020, more than one in four UK workers were furloughed. This picture has been broadly similar in many other developed countries. Nevertheless, millions of less fortunate people in developed countries were left unable to work and facing mounting debts.
In the developing world, however, the situation has been far worse. The closure of shops and businesses deemed ‘non-essential’ in developing countries has left large numbers of people without any source of income. An estimated 4 billion people – more than half the world’s population – are estimated to have no access to social protection benefits. Those affected are disproportionately found in developing countries. Restricting the right to work thus threatens to be especially devastating in the poorest countries.
Article 26 of the Declaration states that everyone has the right to education. Nevertheless, the United Nations estimates that closing schools under coronavirus legislation has affected 1.29 billion students in 186 countries, a number equivalent to 73.8 percent of the world’s student population. As with restrictions of other human rights, the closing of schools is likely to have particularly damaging effects both in developing countries and among poorer families in all countries.
In developed countries many schools have continued providing lessons via the internet. But even in these countries, internet use remains far from universal. More than 21 million Americans still lack broadband connectivity, for example. Affected groups include 30 percent of rural Americans and 40 percent of the country’s schools. Research in England suggests forty percent of pupils have not been in regular contact with their teachers since the start of the lockdown.
For millions of children in developing countries, the lack of an internet connection makes online lessons impossible. In sub-Saharan Africa, for example, 82 percent of children lack internet access and 89 percent don’t have access to household computers. Many developing countries have therefore attempted to provide education via TV or radio broadcasts. Aside from the difficulties of ensuring that children even watch or listen to such broadcasts, this is clearly a poor substitute for formal classroom lessons.
The longer schools are closed and the right to education remains unfulfilled, the more damaging the effect will be on children’s long-term attainment and earnings.
Article 28 of the Declaration states that everyone is entitled to a social and international order in which the rights and freedoms set out in the text can be fully realized. Clearly, the removal of basic human rights that has taken place in response to the coronavirus pandemic is not consistent with this.
In defending the implementation of restrictive coronavirus legislation, governments have repeatedly emphasized that the coronavirus is dangerous. In reality, however, it is only dangerous to people with weakened immune systems. In addition to practicing good general hygiene, therefore, strengthening your own immune system by ensuring an optimum daily supply of micronutrients is the most important thing you can do to protect yourself from the pandemic. You should especially make sure to obtain optimum amounts of vitamin C. Numerous textbooks of biology and chemistry and decades of scientific research bear testimony to the fact that vitamin C plays vital roles in immunity and fighting viral infections.
In addition to strengthening your immune system there are also two further things you can do.
Firstly, given the proven roles of micronutrients in supporting the immune system, preventing cardiovascular diseases, fighting cancer, and maintaining overall health, the Dr. Rath organization has started an online petition calling for unrestricted access to science-based natural health therapies to be declared a human right. Clearly, had governments implemented such therapies into their public health policies years ago, not only could the coronavirus pandemic have been largely contained, major economic damage and draconian restrictions on human rights could essentially have been avoided. The fact that there are growing moves to control the spread of information about natural therapies in internet search results should act as a warning that, unless we defend our rights to use them, they are in danger of being taken away from us.
Secondly, if you want to defend your human rights and access to natural therapies, it is vital that you communicate this message to the world’s political leaders. Towards this goal, the Dr. Rath Health Foundation has set up a web page from which you can contact the leaders of more than forty countries. Keep in mind that in many cases, lifesaving information about science-based natural health therapies will have been withheld from these leaders. So long as they continue to remain unaware of it, millions of their citizens will as well.
Nelson Mandela once said that to deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity. The restriction of human rights under the guise of the coronavirus pandemic is a clear reminder that humanity’s centuries-long battle against injustice has yet to be won.