It is indisputable that human rights are superior to any law and order, therefore no law or mandate that violates human rights shall be accepted or made. It is also indisputable that in specific cases these rights must be limited, such as in the right of owning a property and stealing it from another human.
Article 3. Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.
Article 5. No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.
Article 13. (1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement and residence within the borders of each state. (2) Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.
Dignity, liberty, privacy, freedom of movement, social life, and peaceable assembly are human rights that have been suspended and violated by governments around the world to supposedly mitigate the spread of COVID19 to protect “the right to a standard of living adequate for the health” of a percentage of the population.
The obvious reality of the situation is that there are multiple rights being suspended to, assumingly, protect one right. The most crucial question here is how do we deal with such a situation in which one right interferes with the other? In general, not every right is at the same level in the value system. With some strict exceptions, the right to live is above all rights.
Focusing on the current situation, the suspended rights are, arguably, in conflict with “the right to a standard of living adequate for the health” of a percentage of the population. Basically, the government suspended people’s rights by the lockdowns, social distancing, and other measures to, arguably, prevent the spread of SARS CoV2 to certain demographics of the population who might be at serious risk from the infection.
The disputedly, contradicted rights belong to different levels in the value system. Dignity and liberty belong to a level higher than “the right to a standard of living adequate for the health”. Nevertheless, belonging to a higher level should be considered a criterion only when the solution is confined and limited to one option.
In the current issue of COVID19 the suspension of rights is not proportionately equal to the assumed protection. That is, the demographics that are at serious risk constitute a very small percentage of the population. Meaning, that the government is arguing that the violation of the rights of the vast majority is justified by the perceived benefit of protecting the very few from being exposed to potential risk.
The problem in their argument is:
- that the erosion of the rights of the majority is definite but the sought protection is potential. For, there is no evidence guarantees that the erosion of some rights will definitely preserve the concerned right.
- the erosion of rights is impacting everyone, but the potential protection is limited to a very small percentage of the population.
- the potential protection of the many, in fact, is not conditioned by the erosion of the rights of the many; for the current measures target some of the places and points of contact that could be avoided by the, potentially, at-risk demographics without the need to violate the rights of the vast majority.
Moreover, violating many human rights of the vast majority, philosophically, cannot be justified by the potential protection of one right of the very few especially when the many eroded rights belong to a higher level in the value system and when the perceived benefit of the few is, only, potential. Additionally, the potential protection for “the right to a standard of living adequate for the health” of the few does not rely on the suspension of the rights of the many, they are not mutually exclusive. Because the perceived protection of the majority of the at-risk demographics can be accomplished by refraining from engaging in activities or places that could possibly be a source of risk.
The above analysis touched on the current situation without factoring in the harmful impact on another percentage of the population as a result of the suspension of some human rights. Regardless, the witnessed public acceptance for such a reversed logic is extremely worrying particularly when it is only accepted for this issue and rejected for every other issue that is part of our lives.
 “Article 25. (1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate for the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.”