The right to clothing and personal protective equipment in the context of COVID-19

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The human right to clothing has been labelled a forgotten right. Consequently, the content of this right is unclear. This may explain why, despite the prominence of issues relating to Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in the discourse surrounding COVID-19, the right to clothing has not been addressed or engaged. Instead, the issue of PPE has been addressed through other rights such as rights to life, health, and work. This is despite the readiness by which PPE aligns within the right to clothing. PPE is, irrefutably, a form of clothing. Thus, the negative consequences of inadequate PPE within the COVID-19 crisis, although engaging with other rights, are caused by a failure to adequately realise the right to clothing. Consequently, the aims of this article are two-fold. Firstly, to ensure that the right to clothing implications of COVID-19 are engaged with and, secondly, to promote – and demonstrate the importance of – the right to clothing as an independent and valid right which can be utilised to tackle human rights crises. In this second regard, the COVID-19 crisis may act as a catalyst for the reassertion of the right to clothing.
Original languageEnglish
JournalThe International Journal of Human Rights
Early online date3 Feb 2021
Publication statusPublished - 3 Feb 2021


  • human rights
  • clothing
  • COVID-19
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE)


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