On 8 December 2021, SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov spoke at the opening ceremony of the 3rd South-South 2021 Human Rights Forum held in Beijing in the hybrid format by China's State Council Information Office and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The event was attended by about 400 representatives from more than 100 countries and international organisations, including high-ranking officials, experts, scientists and diplomats accredited in China. President of China Xi Jinping sent a congratulatory letter to the 2021 South-South Human Rights Forum.
According to the SCO Secretary-General, the 2021 South-South Forum is an authoritative venue for discussing the current human rights situation and the new challenges and threats that affect it. The COVID-19 pandemic is certainly one of these challenges, Mr Norov stressed, and it is testing the human rights and freedoms mechanisms for endurance, since lockdown restrictions should be commensurate with them. He emphasised that a mass vaccination campaign was a matter of vital importance, given the awareness that ensuring the right to life and health was number one priority. In this context, he cited SCO countries as an example.
The SCO Secretary-General focused on the SCO efforts to ensure community mental health and gender equality, provide for the interests of young people and vulnerable groups, and fight poverty. He also mentioned the fact that a number of SCO member states were involved in the activities of international human rights organisations.
Mr Norov stressed that in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, the SCO countries were displaying a high level of solidarity, unity and cohesion, as well as an intention to provide mutual aid in public health, social protection and other related areas.