Involve civil society organisations in policy and operational responses to COVID-19

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The Coalition of Civil Societies – Ghana, have called on Member state Governments and donor agencies to involve civil society organisations in policy and operational responses to COVID-19.

According to the coalition, it is important to safeguard healthcare workers and social care workers on the frontline by ensuring they have access to safe and decent working conditions and are resourced properly.

In an open letter to the President of the republic of Ghana, His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo, and copied to News Ghana, it read, “We are strongly committed to ensuring that civil society organisations and volunteers play a critical role in supporting inclusive community action and ensuring that those who are most often marginalised are not left behind through this challenging time, we believe we are all stronger together.

At the same time, we expect world leaders to ensure that key measures are undertaken to ensure coordinated support for our action at the local and regional level, as outlined in our statement, in order to build a fairer future.”

The coalition further urged Member state Governments and donor agencies to Uphold financial and policy commitments to a human rights based approach, in particular the rights of older people, persons with disabilities and women, girls and gender diverse people.

The letter also read, “Implement clear social and environmental conditions on any emergency financial stimulus to companies, such as treating workers fairly and cutting carbon emissions
In the medium term ‘recovery’ phase, and as well as cancel national debts to ensure sufficient finance is available to governments to ensure a just recovery.”

Read the original letter below

15th May, 2020
The President
Republic of Ghana

Dear [His Excellency Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo ]

AN OPEN LETTER TO HIS EXCELLENCY

We are writing as part of a coalition of more than 300 civil society organisations from around the world, including those working on key rights of women, young people, children, older persons, persons with disabilities and wider human and environmental rights, on the urgent response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
We are strongly committed to ensuring that civil society organisations and volunteers play a critical role in supporting inclusive community action and ensuring that those who are most often marginalised are not left behind through this challenging time, we believe we are all stronger together. At the same time, we expect world leaders to ensure that key measures are undertaken to ensure coordinated support for our action at the local and regional level, as outlined in our statement, in order to build a fairer future.
The pandemic especially affects impoverished communities, older people, women and girls, people with disabilities, refugees and displaced populations, and those with underlying health conditions, and highlights the importance of a whole-of-society human rights centred approach to deliver well-resourced health and social protection systems that respond to all ages. This is an urgent healthcare emergency but it also shines a glaring light on the underlying fragility and inequalities of our societies and the critical need for universal provision of the right to health and social protection, fairer tax and financing, as well as longterm sustainable development, as set out in the Sustainable Development Goals.
You can read our full joint statement here: covidcitizenaction.org
We call on you to commit your government to ensuring a strong role for civil society organisations as part of a joined-up approach to response and recovery to the pandemic.
In particular we call on you to commit to the following principles:
• Connect immediate ‘response and recovery’ funds directly with local groups, community organisations and social enterprises
We recommend that as part of any proposed ‘response & recovery’ funds, a specific allocation should be directed towards innovative approaches to promoting recovery by community organisations and that money reaches them directly; and ensure that these funds are delivered in a way that is inclusive of women and girls, young people, older people, persons with disabilities and other marginalised or vulnerable groups by the use of respective ‘markers’ to track and measure these funds. We stand ready to assist in the design of this approach.
• Safeguard freedom of expression and support innovative approaches to digital freedom of assembly to ensure all voices are heard.
We remain concerned that human rights are under threat and that in some cases emergency powers are being repurposed or mis-directed to limit access to information and obstruct the legitimate exercise of freedom of expression. We call on you to commit that measures will be temporary, subject to review, necessary and proportionate to the evaluated risk, and targeted to ensure public safety while balancing fundamental freedoms.

Furthermore, in the short term ‘response’ phase, we call on Member state governments and donor agencies to:
1. Safeguard healthcare workers and social care workers on the frontline by ensuring they have access to safe and decent working conditions and are resourced properly
2. Involve civil society organisations in policy and operational responses to COVID-19
3. Uphold financial and policy commitments to a human rights based approach, in particular the rights of older people, persons with disabilities and women, girls and gender diverse people.
4. Implement clear social and environmental conditions on any emergency financial stimulus to companies, such as treating workers fairly and cutting carbon emissions
In the medium term ‘recovery’ phase, we call on Member state governments and donor agencies to:
5. Drive a seismic shift towards universal healthcare, welfare payments and social protection that include essential services such as vaccine programs, sexual and reproductive health products and services for all
6. Cancel national debts to ensure sufficient finance is available to governments to ensure a just recovery
7. Adopt fairer taxation policies on those who hold the most resources in our society, alongside measures to tackle illicit financial flows to pay for these protections
8. Put in place incentives for a feminist, green industrial revolution to enable rapid scaling up of sustainable jobs

You can read all of our 12 points here: https://covidcitizenaction.org/covid-19-citizen-action/
We look forward to hearing from you and your office on how we may work with you in taking forward these key priorities.

Yours sincerely,

….Signed………
George Osei-Akoto Bimpeh
(Co-Chair, Ghana CSOs Platform on the SDGs)

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