Tunnelling the Number of Deaths: How the Corona Virus Reversed the Relationship between Human Rights and Human Development


  • Arsène Honoré Gidéon NKAMA Université de Yaoundé 2, Cameroun


Human Development, Human rights, Covid-19, basic protective measures, human-rights-limiting measures


The relationship between human rights and human development was formally introduced in debates by UNDP in 2000 in its Human Development Report. The report discussed the two-way relationship between the two concepts and stressed that human rights and human development positively affect each other. This paper underlines that if it is common for human rights to positively affect human development, the direction of causality can be reversed in times of crisis as in the case of covid-19. Contrary to the exiting literature that generally breaks down government interventions into pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical interventions, this paper goes beyond this classification to distinguish basic protective measures from human rights limitng measures. The paper demonstrates that promoting human rights favours the progression of the pandemic, negatively affecting human development while reducing human rights is a key instrument to limit the number of deaths during pandemic. This is the rationale of the worldwide use of human-rights-limiting measures to control the progression of the pandemic and secure human development. The worldwide use of human-rights-limiting measures is therefore regarded as a tunnel which helps to curb down the number of deaths in pandemic times.