COVID-19 and Amazonia: Rights-based approaches for the pandemic response

COVID-19 has shed light on humanity’s interconnectedness with nature. The protection of biodiversity is essential to prevent future pandemics and protect human health. With rising deforestation levels, the Amazon basin is a centre stage in this debate. Lacking a regional strategy to protect the rainforest, Amazon countries are failing to protect their rich biodiversity. The transboundary effects of Amazonia’s destruction are often overlooked. Simultaneously, the COVID-19 pandemic shows how cooperation between states is more critical than ever. This article examines how Amazon countries have jointly addressed the pandemic, demonstrating the effectiveness of regional agreements and their role in pandemic prevention. The right to a healthy environment is central to this investigation, given the role of forests and biodiversity in preventing zoonotic diseases. This article thus asks: What are the duties of States to protect the environment and indigenous communities during COVID-19 and potentially future pandemics? In this context, it considers the developing jurisprudence of the Inter-American System of Human Rights and its potential effects on regional and national implementation of environmental obligations.

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