Today, the world faces a tough time due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This situation affects not
just our daily life, but also a lot of things are different now from how they used to be. There
are lots of new rules and regulations all over the world every day. That is why one question
comes to one’s mind. Do human rights still have a meaning or do they lose their significance
during the fight against the coronavirus?
Lockdowns vs. Freedom of Movement
One change, for example, lays within Article 13, „the right to freedom of movement“. It
includes traveling, going on exchanges and moving to another country. However, these days
some states have closed their borders and only citizens can enter the country.
Self-isolation vs. Freedom of Peaceful Assembly
This lockdown of countries leads to another significant part of the quarantine ㅡ self-isolation
at our homes. Normally, we as citizens have the right to meet up for „peaceful assembly and
association“(Article 20), like demonstrations. However, in these times the governments ban
these meetings to prevent the spreading of the virus. Apart from the demonstration, it affects
the private life of people with sick relatives and family events like weddings or funerals.
Tracking the Virus vs. Interference with Privacy
A more drastic change in the current situation is the loss of our privacy. According to the EU,
which is solely responsible for giving these companies the free-range to use user data, it is a
way to track down the virus and to minimize the spreading of this disease. The biggest
companies that use and collect anonymous location data in countries like France, Germany,
Italy, and Austria are in fact the national carries, such as “Telekom” in Austria.
All these points show us the impact COVID-19 already has on our Human rights and more
changes are still yet to come. Of course, we understand that the reason for all these
limitations is to save lives. But what we can learn from the whole situation is being grateful
for things that have always seemed natural to us and help other people to gain their right to
‘life, liberty and the security of person’ (Article 3).
Written by Monika Valjan, Petra Lippe