31 OCTOBER 2011 / ARGENTINA: FIRST MEMBER OF THE G20 TO BECOME PARTY TO THE NEW UN MECHANISM TO ENFORCE ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS [Contributed, with thanks, by Julia Kercher, UNDP New York]: Argentina is the first member of the G20 group of the world’s largest economies to ratify the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights. The Optional Protocol will allow individuals and groups within the country to seek justice from the United Nations should these rights – which include the rights to adequate housing, food, water, sanitation, health, work, social security and education – be violated by their government. The decisions made by this new mechanism are likely to influence decisions of national and regional courts around the world. Five countries, including Argentina, have now ratified the Optional Protocol. Read more here.
24 OCTOBER 2011 / PRINCIPLES AND GUIDELINES ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS LAUNCHED BY AFRICAN COMMISSION [Contributed, with thanks, by Julia Kercher, UNDP New York]: The African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights formally launched its Principles and Guidelines on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Reporting Guidelines on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights during its 50th ordinary session in Banjul, the Gambia. These instruments clarify and strengthen the protection of the rights to property, to housing, to work, to health, to food, to water and sanitation, to culture and to social security under the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights. The guidelines will soon become available here. Read the press release issued by 12 organizations and networks here. Access the final communiqué of the 50th session of the ACHPR here.
18 OCTOBER 2011 / THIRD PARTY INTERVENTION BY THE COUNCIL OF EUROPE COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS UNDER ARTICLE 36, PARAGRAPH 3, OF THE EUROPEAN CONVENTION ON HUMAN RIGHTS: According to the Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights, Thomas Hammarberg, persons with disabilities are often denied access to justice on an equal basis with others. He submitted written observations to the European Court of Human Rights on a case concerning the treatment of a person with disability in Romania. According to Hammarberg, “There is an atmosphere of impunity surrounding abuses committed against people with disabilities. A strict application of standing requirements to these persons would have the undesired effect of depriving a particularly vulnerable group of people of any reasonable prospect of seeking and obtaining redress for violations of their human rights.” Read more here and access the text of the third party intervention here.
17 OCTOBER 2011 / MAASTRICHT PRINCIPLES ON EXTRATERRITORIAL OBLIGATIONS OF STATES IN THE AREA OF ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS [Contributed, with thanks, by Ashfaq Khalfan, Amnesty International]: In October 2011, a group of experts in international human rights law adopted the Maastricht Principles on Extra-Territorial Obligations of States in the Area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. These international legal principles serve to clarify the human rights obligations of states beyond their own borders and cover all economic, social and cultural rights, including the right to an adequate standard of living, the right to water, to health, housing, sanitation and education. The Principles affirm that states are obliged to cooperate and assist other states in the realization of economic, social and cultural rights, and emphasise that states can and must be held to account for violations of human rights that occur due their conduct beyond their borders. Read more here and access the full text of the Maastricht Principles here .
17 OCTOBER 2011 / INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ERADICATION OF POVERTY:
On the occasion of the International Day for the Eradiation of Poverty UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon cautioned that progress so far in the fight against poverty risked being reversed by a failure to put people at the centre of development policies and strategies aimed at economic recovery following the global financial crisis. He pointed out that too often in the debate about the future, the voices of the poor and the young are being ignored, and so are environmental concerns. In addition the Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty, Ms. Sepulveda, noted that it was clear that the poorest and most excluded bore the brunt of the financial crises. “What is required are recovery measures that are equitable, accompanied by human rights safeguards and designed from the ground up, taking into consideration the specific needs of vulnerable populations.” Read more here.
14-15 OCTOBER 2011 / ASEAN INTERGOVERNMENTAL COMMISSION ON HUMAN RIGHTS / CONFERENCE ON MATERNAL HEALTH: The two-day conference aimed to start the development of ASEAN best practices and regional approaches on reducing maternal mortality and morbidity, and ensuring maternal health in the ASEAN region. Present during the two-day conference were representatives of ASEAN member states to the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights (AICHR), experts on maternal health from ASEAN member states, experts from the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR) and Asia-Pacific experts on maternal health. There were calls for, inter alia, increasing budget allocations for health; ensuring proper tracking of funds and investments on reproductive health; promoting compliance with international human rights treaties; introducing new legislation and amending existing legislation to promote maternal health and reproductive health; and ensuring access to effective remedies when women’s reproductive rights have been violated. Read more about the AICHR here and read more about the maternal health conference here.
16 OCTOBER 2011 / WORLD FOOD DAY: United Nations agencies tasked with tackling global hunger highlighted the need for concerted efforts to address the root causes, focusing on the need to ensure that children have enough to eat, and addressing the factors that make food unaffordable for so many. FAO chose the theme of ‘Food Prices – From Crisis to Stability’ for this year’s Day to shed light on the trend and what can be done to mitigate its impact on the most vulnerable. Access FAO’s report “The State of Food Insecurity in the World” (2011) here. The UN World Food Programme (WFP), for its part, marked the Day with an effort to connect the lives and dreams of hungry children in developing countries with activists and supporters who are in a position to help them, through a new online platform. Read more about the Right to Food here. Read more about World Food Day 2011 here.
3 OCTOBER 2011 / WORLD HABITAT DAY: Close to a third of the global population continues to live in slums and unplanned settlements, often located in areas exposed to serious environmental risks and hazards, said the UN Special Rapporteurs on Housing, Raquel Rolnik, and on Internally Displaced Persons, Chaloka Beyani. “People living in informal settlements are particularly affected by climate change induced disasters. After a disaster, they are more exposed to eviction and land grabbing as they lack legal protection and their rights to tenure are not recognized.” The Special Rapporteurs called on States and international agencies to recognize informal settlements and the human rights of their inhabitants, and to address their unique needs and vulnerabilities as an integral and indispensable part of disaster risk reduction
and recovery efforts.” Read more here.
NEWS FROM THE HUMAN RIGHTS TREATY BODIES:
21 OCTOBER 2011 / COMMITTEE ON ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN CONCLUDES FIFTIETH SESSION: The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women concluded its fiftieth session. During the session, the Committee adopted a General Statement on rural women in which it noted that despite efforts undertaken to encourage the overall empowerment of rural women, there were still many issues that needed to be addressed as women, and in particular rural women, faced discrimination in all spheres of life. Furthermore, in a statement on the occasion of the sixtieth anniversary of the 1951 Refugee Convention and the fiftieth anniversary of the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness, the Committee requested all States parties to reaffirm their commitment to adhering to their international obligations by ensuring that their laws, policies and practices did not discriminate against refugee and stateless women and girls. The Committee called on States to recognize gender related forms of persecution and to interpret the “membership of a particular social group” ground of the 1951 Convention to apply to women. Read more about the fiftieth session of CEDAW here.
13 0CTOBER 2011 / PILLAY HAILS COMPLETION OF FIRST-EVER HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW OF ALL 193 STATES: The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Ms. Navi Pillay congratulated the Human Rights Council for completing a peer review of the human rights record of all 193 member states of the United Nations, and said she looked forward to concrete results in terms of human rights promotion and protection on the ground. Ms. Pillay said that the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) has in many instances provided a framework for exchange and dialogue across State structures as well as between the State and members of civil society. She also noted that the UPR had produced a lot of recommendations and warned that for such recommendations to be useful, they must be precise, constructive and time-bound. Read more about the completion of the first cycle of the UPR here and access a blog by A.H. Monjurul Kabir (UNDP Bratislava regional center) about the UPR process here
UN WORK IN FOCUS:
27 OCTOBER 2011 / LAUNCH OF THE UNDG-HRM MULTI DONOR TRUST FUND [Contributed, with thanks, by Emilie Filmer-Wilson, UNDOCO, New York]: The United Nations Development Group’s Human Rights Mainstreaming Mechanism (UNDG-HRM) Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) was officially launched by Ms. Helen Clark, Chair, United Nations Development Group, and Ms. Navi Pillay, United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights. The Trust Fund will support the work of UNDG-HRM in four areas: Promoting a coordinated and coherent UN system-wide approach towards the integration of human rights principles and international standards into UN operational activities for development; providing coherent and coordinated support to Resident Coordinators and UN country teams in mainstreaming human rights; developing a coherent UN-system wide approach, through cooperation and collaboration among UN agencies, to providing support towards strengthening national human rights protection systems at the request of governments; and contributing to the integration of human rights issues in the overall UNDG advocacy on development agenda and global issues. Access more information on the launch and the Multi Donor Trust Fund here. Access the fact
sheet about the UNDG-HRM in English/French/Spanish.
PROTECTING CHILD RIGHTS IN AFGHANISTAN / HUMAN RIGHTS SUPPORT UNIT AND UNICEF [Contributed, with thanks, by Shahriniso Najmetdinova, UNDP Afghanistan]: Children are one of the most vulnerable groups in Afghanistan. The Government of Afghanistan is party to key international treaties that protect the rights of children and adults alike. However, the realization of rights through the enactment of national laws is slow. To support the Afghan government in meeting its international obligations, UNDP’s Justice and Human Rights in Afghanistan (JHRA) project established the Human Rights Support Unit (HRSU) in 2010. At the request of the Ministry of Justice, HRSU is currently working with UNICEF to develop the National Child Act, which will supersede all existing legislation, and provide comprehensive legal protection in accordance with the provisions of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Child Act will also outline systems and procedures to increase the protection children have within the justice system. Read more here.
28 OCTOBER 2011 / SECOND UNIPP POLICY BOARD MEETING [Contributed, with thanks, by Jessica Jansson, UNDP New York]: The second Policy Board meeting for the United Nations Indigenous Peoples Partnership (UNIPP), a partnership of ILO, OHCHR, UNDP, UNICEF and UNFPA aimed at developing national capacities to promote effective dialogue and partnership to fulfill indigenous peoples rights at the country level concluded with the review of seven project proposals submitted from the Plurinational State of Bolivia, Nicaragua, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Republic of Congo, Nepal and the UNDP Regional Center for Asia Pacific and OHCHR South-east Asia. The proposals targeted the promotion and protection of the rights of indigenous issues as stated in the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and ILO Convention 169, the two key international documents that upholds indigenous peoples’ rights. The successful project proposals will receive communication from UNIPP secretariat and project implementation is foreseen to start in the first quarter of 2012. Read more here.
3-5 OCTOBER 2011 / OSLO GOVERNANCE FORUM: SIDE EVENT ON MAINSTREAMING HUMAN RIGHTS INTO GOVERNANCE ASSESSMENTS [Contributed, with thanks, by Beatriz Fernandez, UNDP New York]: UNDP’s Oslo Governance Center, in collaboration ActionAid, ACTAlliance, PRIA, UNDEF, NORAD, and the World Bank Institute, organized the Oslo Governance Forum, which included a side event on mainstreaming human rights into governance assessments. The presentations emphasized that human rights are components and important indicators to governance. The participants agreed that human rights need to be systematically embedded in governance assessment processes and that the emphasis should be placed in facilitating the space for the participation of rights-holders, particularly those who are traditionally marginalized. Access the Oslo Principles on Democratic Governance Assessments here and access more information about the Oslo Governance Forum here.
HRBA/RBM SKILLS WORKSHOP 2011 / UN SYSTEM STAFF COLLEGE [Contributed, with thanks, by Adriana Jacinto, UNSSC]: The UN System Staff College Human Rights-Based Approach/Results-Based Management (HRBA/RBM) held in Turin from 17 to 21 October was attended by 20 UN colleagues from 10 different UN Agencies, Funds and Programmes. The workshop ranged from the human rights protections systems (international, regional and national) and normative framework through to the origins of the UN Common Understanding on the Human Rights-based Approach and its introduction as a mandatory programming principle in the UN Common Country Programming processes, particularly the Country Analysis and the UNDAF. Read the HuriTALK Insights Series about the updated Common Learning Package on a HRBA/RBM here. The calendar for upcoming UNSSC HRBA/RBM Skills Workshops for 2012 is under development and will soon be available here.
REGIONAL MEETING OF MEMBERS OF THE JUDICIARY ON HIV AND THE LAW IN WEST AND CENTRAL AFRICA / UNAIDS, OHCHR, UNDP and AAHJF [Contributed, with thanks, by Mamadi Diakite, UNAIDS Regional Support Team for West and Central Africa]: Ministers of Justice and members of the judiciary from West and Central Africa met in Dakar, Senegal, from 6 to 8 February 2011 for a high level meeting on HIV and the law. The meeting focused on the potential role of Ministers of Justice, members of the judiciary and other officials responsible for justice in removing barriers to universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care, including legal support, and the promotion of a legal and judicial environment conducive to an effective HIV response. Exchanges were based on the principle that when the law is based on human rights and is evidence-informed, HIV exposure and vulnerability risk factors will be reduced and universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care services enhanced. The meeting resulted in the adoption of a Statement of Commitment on HIV and the Law for Members of the Judiciary in West and Central Africa (see Annex 1 of the meeting report). Access the report here.
SEPTEMBER 2011 / WORLD BANK SYMPOSIUM ON JUSTICE, CONFLICT AND DEVELOPMENT, SYDNEY [Contributed, with thanks, by Pete Chapman, World Bank]: World Bank’s Justice for the Poor program held a symposium on Justice, Conflict, and Development. The one-day session brought together participants from around the world to explore the links between justice, conflict and development and the implications for donor support to justice reform.
A summary of the conference, and links to the presentations is available here. Furthermore the World Bank in Sydney hosted a conversation on law, justice and rights in the Pacific that is available here.
AWARDS, LEARNING AND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES:
24 OCTOBER 2011 / NANSEN DIALOGUE CENTRE SKOPJE (NDC SKOPJE) RECEIVES MAX VAN DER STOEL AWARD: According to the jury, NDC Skopje has taken up the challenging task of bringing together students, parents and teachers in an area that has been affected by the 2001 conflict and is characterized by great ethnic divisions. Its integrated bilingual schools are models for promoting respect for diversity, bilingualism and harmonious relations between teachers, pupils and their parents from different ethnic backgrounds. NDC Skopje also supports education reforms, which aim at eliminating inequalities and guaranteeing national minority rights while promoting interethnic interaction. Access a video documentary on the work of the Nansen Dialogue Centre Skopje here.
13 OCTOBER 2011 / MARTIN ENNALS AWARD FOR HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS GOES TO KASHA JACQUELINE NABAGESERA: Kasha Jacqueline Nabagesera is the winner of the 2011 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders, awarded annually by 10 human rights NGOs. She is the founder and executive director of the LGBT rights organization Freedom and Roam Uganda. Under Uganda’s legal system, homosexuality is a criminal offence that carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. A bill proposed in 2009 sought to entrench discrimination and hatred against LGBT people. Read more here. Nominations for the 2012 Martin Ennals Award for Human Rights Defenders are accepted until the 9th of December 2011. Forms can be filled out here.
UNITED NATIONS DEMOCRACY FUND GRANTS FUNDING FOR PROJECTS TO ADVANCE DEMOCRACY [Contributed, with thanks, by Julia Kercher, UNDP New York]:
The United Nations Democracy Fund invites civil society organizations to apply for funding for projects to support democracy. Proposals may be submitted on-line between 15 November 2011 and 31 December 2011. Access guidelines and apply online here.
APPLICATIONS ACCEPTED TO SPECIAL FUND OF THE OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE UN CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE 2011-2012 / OHCHR will accept applications from eligible applicants aimed at implementing recommendations made by the Subcommittee on Prevention of Torture after a visit to a State party. In 2011, four thematic priorities have been established: Notifications of fundamental rights to detainees in a language which they can understand; Improving recreational and/or vocational activities for juveniles in detention; Basic training programmes for detention personnel; Any other specific recommendation in the visit reports that details a pressing and compelling need. The deadline for applications is 30 November 2011. Read more and apply here.
MULTI-DISCIPLINARY PROGRAM IN HUMAN RIGHTS / INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS EXCHANGE /JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA: The International Human Rights Exchange (IHRE) is a full-semester, multidisciplinary program in human rights. The program is housed at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, South Africa and is a joint venture with Bard College. Each year — starting in July and ending in November – undergraduate students and faculty from Africa and North America come together to participate in a deep and multifaceted intellectual engagement in human rights. In addition to a required core course, students choose from 12 or more electives exploring human rights from the perspective of a variety of academic disciplines. Applications deadlines are November 15, 2011 for the Spring 2012 Semester and March 1, 2012 for the Fall 2012 Semester. Read more and apply here.
VARIOUS E-LEARNING COURSES / 2011-2012 / HREA: Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) is issuing a call for applications for the following upcoming courses: Specialised courses – Child Rights Programming – La Programmation basée sur les droits humains – Le Monitoring des droits de l’homme – Monitoring Children’s Rights – Monitoring Women’s Rights Project Development and Management in the NGO Sector – Use of ICTs and Social Media for Human Rights Work. The deadline for applications for e-learning courses is 15 November 2011. HREA also offers short certificate courses: Derecho Internacional Humanitario - Development and Human Rights: Implications for the Globalised World – Indigenous Peoples’ Rights – International Refugee Law and Contemporary Challenges – The European System of Human Rights Protection and Promotion -The Right to Education. The deadline for applications for short certificate courses is 1 December 2011. Read more and apply online here.
CALL FOR ENTRIES / 2012 HUMAN RIGHTS ESSAYS AWARD [Contributed, with thanks, by Lauren Bruce, Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law]: The Academy on Human Rights and Humanitarian Law announced the topic for the 2012 Human Rights Essay Award: “The Rights of Indigenous People and International Human Rights Law”. The Human Rights Essay Award is an annual competition sponsored by the Academy and seeks to stimulate the production of scholarly work in international human rights law. Participants have the flexibility to choose any subject related to the assigned topic; the essay has to be a legal article. The deadline for submissions is 1 February 2012. Access more information here.
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS FOR THE 33RD ANNUAL INTERNATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS TRAINING PROGRAM / 3-22 JUNE 2012, QUEBEC, CANADA [Contributed, with thanks, by Ian Hamilton, Equitas]: Equitas will be holding its 33rd International Human Rights Training Program (IHRTP) in Ste-Anne-de-Bellevue, Québec, Canada, from June 3rd June 22nd, 2012. This annual, intensive three-week program brings together around 120 participants from approximately 60 countries. The IHRTP is an intermediate-level program that focuses on international human rights standards, current human rights issues and human rights education strategies. The exploration of human rights principles and instruments, ongoing critical reflection and inquiry and extensive sharing of experiences allow participants to strengthen their capacity to engage in effective human rights education. The deadline for applications is November 21, 2011. Read more and apply here.
WEBSITES, GUIDES AND TOOLS:
GUIDES ON BUDGETING AND COSTING HUMAN RIGHTS / EQUAL IN RIGHTS [Contributed, with thanks, by Julia Kercher, UNDP New York]: Intended as resource guides, these publications published by Equalinrights respectively seek (i) to define the notion of ‘frontloading human rights’ as translating international human rights principles and obligations into policy- and budget recommendations, through an extensive review of background material on budgeting for human rights, and (ii) to develop a methodology for calculating the implementation cost of a human rights policy. This work is an attempt to understand better the concepts underpinning human rights budget work, to make cross linkages with existing budget work, and to develop and/or improve the methodology for frontloading and costing human rights. Access “Frontloading Human Rights: A Conceptual Framework for Building Budgets and Realising Rights” and “A Guide to Costing Human Rights”.
LEGAL GUIDE / THE RIGHT TO FOOD / ADVOCATES FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT:
This legal guide provides an introduction to the key sources for the human right to food under international law. It clarifies what the right to food entails under diverse bodies, discusses different interpretations of the right to food, and considers a case study of right to food litigation in India. Access the guide here.
LEGAL GUIDE / THE AARHUS CONVENTION / ADVOCATES FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: This legal guide concerns the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s ‘Aarhus Convention’, an environmental treaty promoting environmental justice. The guide explains the significance of the treaty, the emphasis it places on NGO involvement, and how it will be a key tool for those seeking to promote environmental justice. It details the 44 parties to the Aarhus Convention, the ‘Three Pillars’ of the treaty and implementation of the Aarhus Convention in the UK. Access the guide here.
UPDATED ONLINE TRAINING MANUAL ON HUMAN RIGHTS FOR HEALTH WORKERS / IFHHRO [Contributed, with thanks, by Julia Kercher, UNDP New York]: The International Federation of Health and Human Rights Organisations (IFHHRO) expanded its Health and Human Rights online Training manual. The manual aims to educate health workers in relevant human rights frameworks and applications in order to help safeguard people’s basic right to health. The manual includes expanded material; improved content based on users’ feedback; and is available in English, Spanish, French and Russian. Users are requested to register; after that the manual can be downloaded free. You can register for and access to the manual here.
E-INFO TOOL / NATIONAL HUMAN RIGHTS INSTITUTIONS / GERMAN INSTITUTE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS [Contributed, with thanks, by Andrea Kämpf, German Institute for Human Rights]: This e-info tool aims to introduce National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) as strategic partners for development cooperation, to highlight possible areas and methods of cooperation, and to give examples of successful cooperation with NHRIs. Access the tool here.
ELECTRONIC TOOLKIT / INTERNATIONAL YEAR FOR PEOPLE OF AFRICAN DESCENT / OHCHR:
The year 2011 is the International Year for People of African Descent. The Year aims at strengthening national action and regional and international cooperation for the benefit of people of African descent. This includes their full enjoyment of economic, cultural, social, civil and political rights, their participation and integration in all political, economic, social and cultural aspects of society, and the promotion of a greater knowledge of and respect for their diverse heritage and culture. The toolkit aims to assist UN staff around the world tackle issues related to the situation of people of African descent, during the International Year and beyond. Access the toolkit here.
HUMAN RIGHTS IMPACT ASSESSMENT GUIDE: REVISED ONLINE EDITION / RIGHTS & DEMOCRACY [Contributed, with thanks, by Julia Kercher, UNDP New York]: Rights & Democracy launched a revised, online version of its Human Rights Impact Assessment guide. Titled “Getting it Right”, the guide provides a step-by-step process for those wishing to take stock of the positive and negative human rights impacts of an investment project in their community. The guide also provides a virtual library, examples of research techniques, and a detailed, interactive process for selecting assessment indicators. The guide is accessible in English and French here. A Spanish language version is forthcoming in January 2012.
REPORTS, ARTICLES AND BOOKS:
THE MILLENNIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS: MILESTONES OR MILLSTONES? HUMAN RIGHTS PRIORITIES FOR THE POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA: This paper, authored by Mac Darrow (OHCHR) examines the history, impacts and ongoing significance of the Millennium Development Goals in re-framing and re-focusing international and national poverty reduction efforts and policies. The paper concludes by venturing a set of substantive and process-related parameters that should guide the reformulation of a post-2015 global poverty reduction compact, positioning human rights arguments and identified priorities within an increasingly challenging constellation of threats to international human rights and underlying ethics of global social justice. Access the paper here and access other scholarly articles in relation to human rights here.
25 OCTOBER 2011 / PRESENTATION OF REPORT ON EXTREME POVERTY AND HUMAN RIGHTS [Contributed, with thanks, by Lidia Rabinovich, OHCHR Geneva]: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Magdalena Sepulveda, presented her annual report to the UN General Assembly. The report includes a human rights analysis of laws, regulations and practices that punish, segregate, control and undermine the autonomy of persons living in poverty. Across the developing and developed world, States are increasingly treating people living in poverty as dangerous and dirty, an eyesore and a burden, and are adopting policies and laws which penalise, and even criminalise, the poor for their situation. According to the report, these measures represent a serious threat to the enjoyment of human rights by persons living in poverty. Access the report here.
21 OCTOBER 2011 / UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON COUNTER-TERRORISM AND HUMAN RIGHTS TO FOCUS ON RIGHTS OF VICTIMS AND PREVENTION OF TERRORISM: The newly appointed UN Special Rapporteur on counter-terrorism and human rights, Ben Emmerson, has told the General Assembly that he will pay particular attention to the rights of victims of terrorism and prevention of terrorism during his tenure. The Special Rapporteur considers it “essential that the protection of the rights of the victims of terrorism is seen as a genuine legal duty resting primarily on States, and that it is not misused as a pretext for violating the human rights of those suspected of terrorism, for taking emergency measures which provide for excessive and disproportionate executive powers, or for other essentially political gain.” Access the report here.
21 OCTOBER 2011 / BEYOND BUILDINGS AND PROPERTY RIGHTS: WHAT IT TAKES TO ENSURE THE RIGHT TO ADEQUATE HOUSING IN DISASTER RELIEF: “Disaster relief provides opportunities but also serious risks for human rights,” said United Nations Special Rapporteur Raquel Rolnik, urging governments to go beyond physical structures and individual property rights in their relief efforts and protect the right to adequate housing of the most vulnerable. Housing rights are human rights; General Comment 4, adopted by the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights in 1991, lays out the criteria of adequate housing. The Special Rapporteur also stressed the broad implications of fully taking into account the right to adequate housing in disaster response. ““Putting the right to adequate housing at the core of reconstruction efforts requires the willingness to address difficult issues, such as inequalities in society, that are magnified and exacerbated by disasters. It is crucial to do so if we are serious about making human rights commitments a reality in all circumstances.” Access the report here and access a factsheet about the right to housing here.
21 OCTOBER 2011 / UN EXPERT CALLS FOR A GENDER PERSPECTIVE FOR THE CRIMINAL JUSTICE SYSTEM: There is an urgent need to integrate a gender perspective in the criminal justice system as a fundamental step towards allowing equal access to justice for women and men, said Friday the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the independence of judges and lawyers, Gabriela Knaul. Expressing her concern by the lack of integration of gender and women’s perspectives into judging, judicial procedures and the judiciary at large, the Special Rapporteur underscored that “traditional notions of judging must be challenged and the representation of women in the judiciary encouraged.”Access the report here.
FRAMING LOCAL CONFLICT AND JUSTICE IN BANGLADESH [Contributed, with thanks, by Pete Chapman, World Bank]: Vivek Maru and Maitreyi Das authored an article on the institutional landscape of local dispute resolution in Bangladesh. The article suggests a number of opportunities for strengthening local justice and argues that the village courts may pose a useful bridge between Bangladesh’s informal and formal justice institutions. The report is available here.
NATIONAL INSTITUTIONS FOR THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF HUMAN RIGHTS / REPORT BY THE SECRETARY-GENERAL: This report contains information on activities undertaken by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to assist in establishing and strengthening national human rights institutions. The report provides an overview of measures taken by Governments and national human rights institutions, as well as support provided to the international and regional activities of national human rights institutions. It further details technical assistance to national human rights institutions and cooperation between those institutions and international mechanisms to promote and protect human rights. Access the report here.
THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT / REPORT OF THE SECRETARY-GENERAL: This report contains an overview of the activities of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights relating to the promotion and realization of the right to development, including in the context of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the UN Declaration on the Right to Development. The report also presents a compilation of the conclusions and recommendations adopted by consensus by the Working Group on the Right to Development, of the Human Rights Council, with a view to contributing to intergovernmental deliberations. Access the report here.
REPORT / FREE FLOW OF INFORMATION AND ACCESS FOR ALL: The UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression, Frank La Rue, urged Governments to guarantee the free flow of information on the Internet, and to ensure that the Internet is made widely available, accessible and affordable to all. “Governments are using increasingly sophisticated technologies and tactics which are often hidden from the public to censor online content and to monitor and identify individuals who disseminate critical or sensitive information, which frequently lead to arbitrary arrests and detention,” said La Rue, presenting his annual report to the UN General Assembly. Access the report here.
REPORT / THE WORLD WE WANT / GCAP [Contributed, with thanks, by Matt Davies, International Policy and Advocacy International Movement]: GCAP has published its annual report titled “The World We Want” which features an article on progress towards Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights (pp.30-33). Access the publication here.
CONNECTING HUMAN RIGHTS AND CONFLICT TRANSFORMATION – GUIDANCE FOR DEVELOPMENT PRACTITIONERS [Contributed, with thanks, by Andrea Kämpf, German Institute for Human Rights]: Human rights and conflict transformation are both instrumental for sustainable peace and development, yet “Peace v. Justice” has long been perceived or constructed as a divide. This publication argues that a closer interaction of human rights and conflict transformation practitioners on the ground will deepen analysis and create synergies: by emphasizing the structural dimensions of peace and development and by focusing on governance and power relations in development cooperation. It shows that both approaches are complementary, and illustrates this by using examples from the experiences of development practitioners in countries around the world. Access the publication here.