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Governments must be more inclusive in dealing with future pandemics, say parliamentarians

Petra Stienen

PACE has urged governments to avoid “one size fits all” responses to pandemics or other similar crises, and ensure they always act inclusively and take account of the diversity of society when shaping emergency measures in future.

Approving a resolution based on a report by Petra Stienen (Netherlands, ALDE), the Assembly’s Standing Committee cited some lockdown measures which had aggravated structural inequalities or amplified discrimination, including on grounds of gender, "race", national or ethnic origin, disability and age, or discrimination against LGBTI people.

The parliamentarians called for a “differentiated approach” which was diverse, gender-balanced and inclusive. Governments should “plan, budget for and provide additional support to all persons who need it” in future crises, they added.

“Governments must ask themselves: when we designed measures to respond to this crisis, who was at the table to discuss and debate decisions and emergency laws? What data did we have at our disposal? Whom and what did we miss? How can we ensure that we do not miss them again?”

The parliamentarians also condemned the fact that some political and religious leaders had actively stigmatised certain groups, depicting them as vectors of contagion or even as the cause of the pandemic itself. 

“We must start working now to bring about the transformation to a more inclusive society that this crisis demands”, they said, spelling out a series of specific recommendations to governments, parliaments, political parties and their leaders.