• Eleanor Close Kraft

Dignity in the time of COVID-19

Updated: Mar 23, 2020

With the current crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity is navigating unprecedented disruption and uncertainty. Just as during the crisis of the Second World War, after which the United Nations was founded with a vow never again to allow such atrocities. The UN General Assembly adopted The Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948, 72 years ago.


In recent weeks, many nations have declared “war” on COVID-19. On 17 March 2020, The Swiss Army mobilized troops for the first time since World War II, this time to fight an invisible, virtually real, viral enemy. Once again, as world leaders are in a process of mapping the way forward, we are compelled to see our commonalities rather than our differences and to depend on one another, working and acting in the best interest not only of ourselves but also of humanity.


The Universal Declaration of Human Rights opens with this powerful precondition that binds all of us together as a world community: “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world.”


Why did the nine authors of The Universal Declaration of Human Rights – Dr. Charles Malik of Lebanon, Alexandre Bogomolov of the USSR, Dr. Peng-chun Chang of China, René Cassin of France, Eleanor Roosevelt of the United States, Charles Dukes of the United Kingdom, William Hodgson of Australia, Hernan Santa Cruz of Chile and John P. Humphrey of Canada – presume that dignity is inherent to humanity?


We need only to look at the crisis at hand to understand.


As COVID-19 is spreading around the world, so people everywhere are rising to protect the most vulnerable and to support the individuals working on the front lines to fight the outbreak and treat the stricken. There is an urgent need for strength of character, respect and morality. Acts of solidarity and kindness are occurring everywhere, reflecting a desire for decency, poise and grace. In a word: dignity.



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