COVID-19 Recovery: Building Back Better statement

AFEW International signed COVID-19 Recovery: Building Back Better statement and became a member of CoNGO membership (Conference of NGOs in Consultative Relationship with the United Nations).

COVID-19 Recovery: Building Back Better

Seventy-five years ago, the world was in a deep crisis after the devastation of World War II. Negotiations between governments began that resulted in the founding of the United Nations in 1945 and the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. Common efforts to fight poverty and illiteracy, protect human rights, strengthen cooperation and maintain peace have been steps towards a vision of the world “free from fear, free from want” imagined in the UN Charter.

2020, the international community honors the seventy-fifth anniversary of the United Nations and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Beijing Platform for Action. We embarked on a Decade of Action for the Sustainable Development Goals to accelerate sustainable solutions to the world’s biggest challenges. However, we now live in a world struggling to address the coronavirus pandemic which has dramatically affected political, economic and social life across the globe.
During a crisis, global cooperation and solidarity are urgently needed, but nationalism, racism, intolerance, xenophobia and border closures have too often prevailed. Measures to fight the pandemic have led to restrictions of long-established civic rights and democratic structures. An effective global response will require building consensus and strengthening concerted action to mitigate the multiple challenges we all face.
The pandemic is casting a shadow on hopes for sustainable development, achievements in the status of women, and other human and environmental concerns. The impacts of the virus magnify existing inequalities and vulnerabilities, making us painfully aware of gaps in social protection systems. Before COVID-19, over one billion people were without access to basic human needs, and 700 million were living in extreme poverty, mostly women and children. In many countries, health and social protection systems are inadequate, revealed by the lack of provisions to protect and test medical staff and treat the infected. Older persons are particularly vulnerable to the disease and face increased discrimination.

The pandemic has led to significant restrictions on people’s freedom of movement and peaceful assembly; the misuse of emergency measures may further erode human rights. We have seen authoritarian forces seize the opportunity to expand their power, which has adverse impacts on civic space and the ability of communities and individuals to exercise their rights. The prospects of a long-term global recession raise serious concerns over how long and to what extent restrictions will be in force. After the public health crisis recedes, we must ensure that measures curtailing civil liberties are fully lifted to protect democratic institutions and citizen participation. We representatives of international NGOs in consultative relationship with the UN fear that while attention is focused on the global health crisis, efforts to address the ongoing climate crisis, achieve sustainable development and gender equality, protect human rights and promote peace are being neglected.

We continue to work in partnerships to develop a global plan of action to address the multiple challenges we all face, while promoting human rights, democracy, climate action, gender equality, justice, peace and security, and sustainable development. We are determined to emerge from this crisis and build a better world for all.
We call on the 193 UN Member States to renew their commitment to the UN and to turn this international crisis into an opportunity, using it as a starting point to rebuild economies that are inclusive, and based on sustainable production and consumption:
 to accelerate climate action by rebuilding economies, transport and industries in a carbon neutral manner;
 to recognize and address the disproportionate impacts of the pandemic on women, children, older persons, and other vulnerable and marginalized groups;
 to change the militarized discourse of war and threat to one of care and solidarity, within countries as well as between Member States;
 to provide universal access to and funding for health and social protections for all people;
 to reallocate military spending and increase investments in meeting human needs to create a healthier and more peaceful planet and achieve Agenda 2030;
 to support non-governmental community organizations, human rights defenders and women’s groups, and include them in national and global recovery and reconstruction efforts;
 to strengthen the UN System and provide the necessary funding to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and ensure inclusive societies and economies, a sustainable environment and a more peaceful world.
Only if we continue to work in partnerships and promote human rights, democracy, rule of law, climate action, gender equality, sustainable development, peace and security, can we emerge from this crisis and build a better world for all.

Vienna, Austria
12 May 2020


Endorsements as of 22 May 2020
(To endorse, please email
1. AFEW International
2. Agrenska Foundation
3. African Action on Aids
4. Amman Center for Human Rights Studies (ACHRS)
5. Arab Society for Academic Freedom (ASAF)
6. Centro de Culturas Indigenas del Perú (CHIRAPAQ)
7. Conference of Non-Governmental Organizations in Consultative Relationship
with the United Nations (CoNGO)
8. Congregation of Our Lady of Charity of the Good Shepherd
9. Dianova International
10. Dominicans for Justice and Peace
11. Dominican Leadership Conference
12. Election Network in the Arab Region (ENAR)
13. Environment Liaison Centre International (ELCI)
14. European Federation of Older Students at Universities (EFOSU)
15. Federation of American Women’s Clubs Association (FAWCO)
16. Fundacion Global Democracia y Desarrollo (FGDD)
17. Fundacion para Estudio e Investigacion de la Mujer (FEIM)
18. Global Foundation for Democracy and Development (GFDD)
19. Graduate Women International (GWI)
20. International Alliance of Women (IAW)
21. International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP)
22. International Association of Democratic Lawyers (IADL)
23. International Council of Psychologists (ICP)
24. International Council of Women (ICW)
25. International Federation for Home Economics (IFHE)
26. International Federation of Business and Professional Women (IFBPW)
27. International Federation on Ageing (IFA)
28. International Inner Wheel (IIW)
29. International Union of Psychological Science (IUPsyS)
30. International Youth and Student Movement for the United Nations (ISMUN)
31. Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers (CFMSA)
32. Maryknoll Sisters of St. Dominic, Inc.
33. Ordo Supremus Militaris Templi Hierosolymitani (OSMTH)
34. Servas International
35. Sisters of Charity Federation
36. Socialist International Women (SIW)
37. Society for International Development – Vienna Chapter (SID)
38. Soka Gakkai International (SGI)
39. Soroptimist International (SI)
40. Trust for Youth Child Leadership (TYCL)
41. Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA)
42. United Methodist Church-General Board of Church and Society (UMC-GBCS)
43. Universal Esperanto Association (UEA)
44. Verein fuer Foerderung der Voelkerverstaendigung
45. Virginia Gildersleeve International Fund (DBA Women First International Fund)
46. Women´s Federation for World Peace international (WFWPI)
47. World Student Christian Federation (WSCF)
48. World Union for Progressive Judaism (WUPJ)
49. Zonta International (ZI)

Statement in PDF

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