Human rights under pressure globally in 2020 due to coronavirus pandemic

In 2020, a year dominated by the coronavirus pandemic, the Netherlands kept up its efforts to promote and protect human rights all over the world: battling for equal rights for LGBTI people, supporting human rights defenders and tackling impunity. The Human Rights Report 2020 gives a detailed account of the results of Dutch human rights policy.

The year 2020 was a difficult one for human rights defenders, organisations that promote human rights, and journalists. Governments in many countries used the pandemic as a pretext to make life harder for human rights defenders, who faced censorship, violence and deprivation of liberty. Some countries, like Belarus, stepped up repressive measures without needing any such pretext.

Essential efforts

Despite these challenging conditions, all over the world the Netherlands stood up for human rights, a strong international legal order and the safety of human rights defenders.

For instance, Dutch diplomats worked on behalf of human rights defenders who were being threatened in countries such as Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Cuba, China and Russia. In the UN Security Council the Netherlands denounced the situation in countries like Myanmar, Yemen, China and Eritrea.

Long road to justice

During the pandemic year of 2020, a number of milestones were reached in the Netherlands’ efforts to help human rights defenders. For instance, the Netherlands announced its decision to hold Syria accountable for violations of the UN Convention against Torture – a step now also supported by Canada. These are the first steps on a long road to justice for victims of the Syrian regime.

In addition the Netherlands organised the international World Press Freedom Conference 2020, in which thousands of people, including ministers from 58 countries, participated online. Once again the Netherlands awarded the annual Human Rights Tulip, which includes €100,000 in prize money. This year the prize went to human rights defender Lilit Martirosyan, the first registered transgender woman in Armenia.

More results

More information on the results of Dutch efforts to promote human rights can be found in the Human Rights Report 2020.