23 MARCH 2012 / GLOBAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT FORUM ADOPTS ‘ISTANBUL DECLARATION’ URGING ACTION AT ‘RIO+20’: Delegates to the first Global Human Development Forum unanimously adopted an “Istanbul Declaration” calling on the world community to take bold action against global social inequities and environmental deterioration at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio this June. The Istanbul Declaration was adopted by consensus at the conclusion of the two-day Global Human Development Forum, a gathering of more than 200 leading development experts, civil society activists, government ministers, private sector representatives and UN officials from all regions of the world. The Forum was organized by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the Government of Turkey’s Ministry of Development. The Declaration stresses the need for global and national development strategies to put “strong emphasis on social inclusion, social protection, and equity, in recognition of the fact that economic development has too often gone hand in hand with environmental degradation and increased inequality.” Access the Declaration here.
22 MARCH 2012 / UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADOPTS RESOLUTION ON THE ISSUE OF BIRTH REGISTRATION [Contributed with thanks by Melinda Henry, WHO Geneva]: The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution (A/HRC/19/L.24) dedicated to the issue of birth registration and legal identity for all without any discrimination. The resolution was adopted unanimously without requiring a vote, indicating a wider acceptance of the need for birth registration among member States. WHO estimates that 40 million or approximately one third of births are not registered each year. Dr Flavia Bustreo, WHO Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health, commented, “Lack of birth registration not only impacts the enjoyment of rights to which all persons are entitled, but may also hinder access to a range of essential services, including health care. Moreover, without data on births, national governments will not have credible evidence as a basis for planning, implementing and monitoring public health policies and programmes, and the global community will have less facility in reaching internationally-agreed development goals.” Read more here and access the resolution here.
22 March 2012 / STATEMENT BY UN WATER AND SANITATION EXPERT CATARINA DE ALBUQUERQUE ON WORLD WATER DAY: On World Water Day, United Nations Special Rapporteur on the human right to safe drinking water and sanitation, Catarina de Albuquerque, called on countries not to go back on their decisions to recognize the right to water and sanitation for all, and act consistently with them. The right to water and sanitation was explicitly recognised by the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council in 2010. “States are wasting their time on re-negotiating their own decisions rather than moving forward to implement the right to water and sanitation for all,” Ms. de Albuquerque stressed. “In order to achieve the future we want, we need to again underline our commitments to the human right to water and sanitation. We need to speak up for the millions who are marginalized and forgotten.” Ms. De Albuquerque further stressed, “we should not forget that billions still lack a safe supply of water and access to safe sanitation.” Read more of the statement here. To learn more, click here.
19 MARCH 2012 / RIO+20: NO GLOBAL GOALS WITHOUT ACCOUNTABILITY SAY OVER 20 UN EXPERTS [Contributed with thanks by Emilie Filmer-Wilson, UNDOCO, New York]: In an open letter to world Governments, a group of 22 UN independent human rights experts called on States to incorporate universally agreed international human rights norms and standards with strong accountability mechanisms into the UN Rio+20 sustainable development conference’s goals. “Global goals are easily set, but seldom met,” the rights experts warned, raising the bar for what the conference can and should achieve. “Learning from the mistakes of the Millennium Development Goals, the new sustainable goals must integrate the full range of human rights linked with sustainable development, and human rights must be the benchmark for whether or not inclusive, equitable and sustainable development is occurring,” the independent experts said. They further state: “Human rights must now be the glue in Rio: they must bind countries to the commitments they make. States have an opportunity in Rio to create the transformative changes needed or else fare no better than in previous global attempts in this regard.” Access the full open letter here. For more information on Rio+20, click here.
13 MARCH 2012 / MAASTRICHT PRINCIPLES ON EXTRATERRITORIAL OBLIGATIONS OF STATES IN THE AREAS OF ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS: The Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations (ETOs) of States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights were officially launched at a side event during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council in Geneva. They were elaborated by 44 international legal experts after years of extensive study and adopted by the experts in their individual capacity. Extraterritorial Obligations (ETOs) refer to the obligations of States to respect, protect and fulfill a person’s human rights not only within, but also outside their territories. In the light of the ongoing globalization processes, it is inevitable to take into account the international dimension of human rights in policy-making. Nevertheless, ETOs have often gone unrecognized in law, policy and practice of many States, as they have tended to limit obligations to their own territory. The situation is particularly challenging in the field of economic, social and cultural rights. Click here to watch a video of Professor Coomans of the University of Maastricht describe the importance of the newly launched Maastricht Principles. Access the Maastricht principles here; access a commentary by international human rights experts here.
08 MARCH 2012 / RELEASE OF UN JOINT STATEMENT ON COMPULSORY DETENTION AND REHABILITATION CENTRES FOR DRUG USERS, SEX WORKERS AND CHILD VICTIMS OF SEXUAL EXPLOITATION: United Nations entities have released a Joint Statement on Compulsory Detention and Rehabilitation Centres for Drug Users, Sex Workers and Child Victims of Sexual Exploitation. The Statement has been endorsed by the Principals of all the co-branding agencies. The Statement articulates UN principles and joint concerns and will provide a strong platform for support to Member States to implement voluntary and evidence-informed alternatives to compulsory drug detention and rehabilitation centres, for drug users, people involved in sex work, and children who have been victims of sexual exploitation. To access the statement, please click here.
08 MARCH 2012 / STATEMENT BY UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN, ITS CAUSES AND CONSEQUENCES TO EMPOWER WOMEN, PARTICULARLY RURAL WOMEN: On International Women’s Day, the UN Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences, Rashida Manjoo, called on States to promote, in particular, the social, cultural, and economic rights of rural women: “Violence against women results from a complex interplay of individual, family, community and social factors. I have emphasised the need for a holistic approach that does not treat all women homogenously, but recognizes that discrimination and violence affect women in different ways depending on how they are positioned within different social, economic and cultural contexts… I call upon States and other stakeholders to step up efforts aimed at empowering women, particularly rural women. The active participation of women in development and poverty reduction programmes is an issue of utmost importance to tackle and eliminate the structural causes of violence against women.”
Access the full statement here.
08 MARCH 2012 / UN WOMEN EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR MICHELLE BACHELET CALLS FOR WOMEN’S EQUAL PARTICIPATION IN ALL SPHERES OF LIFE AS FUNDAMENTAL TO DEMOCRACY AND JUSTICE: Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet commemorated International Women’s Day on 08 March 2012 in Morocco, in solidarity with women striving for equality. Calling for women’s increased political participation and economic empowerment, with a focus this year on rural women, Ms. Bachelet underlined urgent actions needed to ensure gender equality, in her 2012 International Women’s Day message, including the need for women in the region to be fully involved in the democratic transition process. The official UN observance for International Women’s Day, with the theme “Empower Rural Women: End Poverty and Hunger,” was held at UN Headquarters in New York on 7 March. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon addressed the event along with other high-level officials and activists who work on issues related to rural women worldwide. Ms. Bachelet joined the gathering through a video message.
NEWS FROM HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES
27 FEBRUARY – 23 MARCH 2012 / HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL CONCLUDES 19TH SESSION: On 23 March the Human Rights Council concluded its 19th regular session, adopting 41 texts on a wide range of issues, including appointing a Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment. There is a current call for applications for the expert with an appointment expected during the upcoming 20th session of the HRC. Access the resolution here and access information about the application process here. The Council also extended mandates of the Special Rapporteurs on Iran, on the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and on Myanmar, and the mandate of the Special Procedure in the field of cultural rights, for a period of three years, as a Special Rapporteur in the field of cultural rights. At the request of the Haitian authorities, the Council extended for one year the mandate of the Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in this country. It also extended the mandate of the Commission of Inquiry on Syria and requested the Commission to conduct and continuously update a mapping exercise of gross violations of human rights since March 2011, including an assessment of casualty figures, and to publish it periodically. For more information, click here. A full list of resolutions adopted during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council can be found here.
07 MARCH 2012 / THE UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS FIRST EVER PANEL DEBATE ON SEXUAL ORIENTATION AND GENDER IDENTITY: On 07 March the United Nations Human Rights Council held its first dedicated discussion on the issue of sexual orientation and gender identity. The debate opened with a recorded video address from the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon who iterated that discrimination and violence on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity was a monumental stain on the collective conscience and a violation of international law. The High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms Navi Pillay, made a statement against ‘bigotry and intolerance’ and clearly affirmed the primacy of international human rights law while noting that currently 76 countries had laws that either explicitly criminalized or prohibited same-sex relations between consenting adults. The full panel discussion can be viewed here. The session also saw the delivery of a joint statement by A-status NHRIs, supporting the call for dialogue and reaffirming that the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity is integrated into the existing international legal framework that States have committed to protecting. Read more here.
21 MARCH 2012 / UN HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL HOLDS ANNUAL THEMATIC DISCUSSION ON SHARING BEST PRACTICES AND PROMOTING TECHNICAL COOPERATION: PAVING THE WAY TOWARDS THE SECOND CYCLE OF THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW (UPR): The Human Rights Council held a thematic discussion on sharing best practices and promoting technical cooperation in paving the way towards the 2nd cycle of the UPR. The focus of the discussion was on practical aspects of technical cooperation as an important tool to help countries with a lack of resources overcome challenges to implementing UPR recommendations including what kind of cooperation is needed and how relevant UN agencies can provide assistance. Discussants included inter alia the High Commissioner for Human Rights and representatives from UNDP, the Kenya Stakeholders Coalition for the Universal Periodic Review and the Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission of the Philippines. Read more here [Fr].
UN WORK IN FOCUS
UNDG – HRM SENIOR POLICY RETREAT [Contributed with thanks by Emilie Filmer-Wilson, UNDG New York]: On 17 February 2012, the UNDG – Human Rights Mainstreaming Mechanism (HRM) organized a full-day senior policy retreat to discuss how to strengthen policy coherence across the UN in mainstreaming human rights. Specifically, the retreat aimed to define a common vision and strategy for mainstreaming human rights into the current and emerging development agendas, including the Quadrennial Comprehensive Policy Review (QCPR) QCPR, Rio+20 and post-2015 development agenda. Some 25 participants, including senior officials and human rights focal points from DESA, FAO, ILO, OHCHR, UNAIDS, UNEP, UNFPA, UNDOCO, UNDP, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNWOMEN and WHO attended the retreat. The Resident Coordinators (RCs) of Venezuela and the Republic of Congo shared their views during the discussion based on their experiences in mainstreaming human rights. Participants engaged in a frank, productive and substantive dialogue on key policy issues confronting the UNDG and emphasized the importance of ensuring that Rio+20 and the QCPR integrate human rights as a fundamental aim of the UN. The retreat provided a useful forum for senior policy dialogue. It also facilitated initial steps towards the development of an Action Plan to further enhance policy and operational coherence, as well as advocacy on human rights and development.
02 MARCH / 43rd ANNUAL MEETING OF THE UN STATISTICAL COMMISSION STRESSES IMPORTANCE OF DATA ON PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: The Commission reviewed the progress made on collecting data and statistics about persons with disabilities. In a DESA hosted side-event the absence of a demand driven disability statistics culture and the importance of collecting specific data on persons with disabilities was stressed. The opportunity afforded through the data collection on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was discussed and a representative of UN-ESCAP, Margarita Guerrero, while stating that data was ‘scarce and sparse’, referred to Fiji, the Philippines, Mongolia and India as good practice for national efforts. Read more here.
AWARDS, LEARNING AND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS / 2012 OHCHR MINORITIES FELLOWSHIP PROGRAMME – ENGLISH LINGUISTIC COMPONENT / OHCHR: The Minority Fellowship Programme (MFP) aims to give persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities, an opportunity to gain knowledge of the UN system and mechanisms dealing with international human rights in general and minority rights in particular. The MFP is intended to assist organizations and communities in protecting and promoting the rights of minorities the fellows belong to. The MFP is interactive and consists of briefings on several topics (e.g. the UN system, OHCHR work, human rights mechanisms and instruments), fellows also undertake individual and group assignments. The 2012 English language component of the MFP will take place from 29 October to 30 November 2012, giving five (5) selected fellows the opportunity to learn more about the promotion and protection of minority rights, OHCHR, and the UN system as well give them an opportunity to attend the 5th session of the Forum on Minority Issues. The deadline for applications is 30 April 2012. The call for applications for the 2012 OHCHR Minorities Fellowship Programme – English linguistic component – is now open.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS: CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD AND THE ISSUES ADDRESSED IN THE RESOLUTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD, WITH A FOCUS ON THE RIGHTS OF INDIGENOUS CHILDREN: At its sixty-sixth session, in its resolution A/RES/66/141, the General Assembly requested the Secretary-General to submit a report on the rights of the child containing information on the status of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the issues addressed in the resolution on the rights of the child, with a focus on the rights of indigenous children. The report will focus mainly on: a) human rights of indigenous children, and b) General Measures of Implementation and indigenous children, c) culture and identity, d) survival and development, e) protection, and f) participation. Interested organizations and individuals are invited to submit a contribution (max. 3 pages plus attachments) in electronic format (preferably WORD) on the above mentioned issues or other issues related to indigenous children, by 30 April 2012. Please send your contributions, preferably in English or French, to Beatrice Duncan, Human Rights Specialist, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) or Nicola Brandt, Human Rights Specialist, Gender and Rights Unit, Division of Policy and Practice, United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). For more information, please click here.
CALL FOR CASE STUDIES / IMPACTS OF FOREIGN DEBT ON WOMEN’S ESC RIGHTS [Contributed with thanks by Dominic Renfrey, International Network for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights]: Dr. Cephas Lumina, the UN Special Rapporteur on the effects of foreign debt on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights (ESC), is producing a report on the effects of foreign debt on Women’s ESC rights. The report will feature in an intervention at the Human Rights Council in Geneva in June. In addition to being presented formally, it will be the focus of a side event during the UN General Assembly meeting in New York in September. Further to this, Dr. Lumina is accepting inputs, preferably case studies of the impacts of foreign debt on Women’s ESC rights, from groups working in the Asia-Pacific region. To contribute case studies from the Asia Pacific region, contact Misun Woo at the Asia Pacific Forum on Women, Law & Development (APWLD) by 24 April 2012. Groups from all other regions can contact Dominic Renfrey by 24 April 2012.
INVITATION TO STAKEHOLDER CONSULTATION / WORKING GROUP ON THE ISSUE OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND TRANSNATIONAL CORPORATIONS AND OTHER BUSINESS ENTERPRISES / FORUM ON BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: During its second session from 7 to 11 May, the Working Group on the issue of human rights and transnational corporations and other business enterprises will hold an open multi-stakeholder consultation to discuss the Forum on Business and Human Rights. Through this consultation, the Working Group seeks to solicit the views and recommendations of Governments, business representatives, civil society organizations and other relevant stakeholders on the methodology and thematic subject(s), as well as procedural matters, for the first annual Forum on Business and Human Rights, as established by Human Rights Council resolution 17/4. A concept note to inform the consultation is available here. A listen-in number will be enabled to allow stakeholders who cannot attend in person to dial in and listen to the exchange. Stakeholders who are unable to attend may also submit their input to the discussion questions presented in the concept note in writing before 27 April to firstname.lastname@example.org. All stakeholders that will attend are invited to register for the consultation. Access information on how to register here. For any queries related to the consultation, please contact email@example.com.
WORKSHOP / HUMAN RIGHTS BASED APPROACH TO PROGRAMMING AND RESULTS-BASED MANAGEMENT / UN SYSTEM STAFF COLLEGE: Taking place between the 4th and 8th of June, 2012 in Turin, Italy, the HRBA Workshop is designed for UN programme staff who seek to advance their skills to effectively apply HRBA and rights-based results-based management (RBM) tools and principles to their daily work, particularly for the UN Common Country Programming Process. The course is interactive in nature and will use real-time. Enrolment dates are between 01 March 2012 and 25 May 2012, inclusive. For more information on the course and to register, click here.
COURSE / SUMMER SCHOOL ON PROTECTING HUMAN RIGHTS THROUGH UNITED NATIONS MECHANISMS / THE HUMAN RIGHTS LAW CENTRE AT THE UNIVERSITY OF NOTTINGHAM, UK: The Summer School will take place from 11 June to 15 June 2012 and will be led by key experts in the field. The focus throughout will be practical and applied: It will give participants an insider understanding of the mechanisms and will equip them with the tools to best use the UN system for the protection of human rights. The School will have sessions devoted to the human rights treaty bodies (the reporting and individual communications procedures), the Human Rights Council’s Universal Period Review Procedure, Special Procedures (UN human rights special rapporteurs, etc.), and the work of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and its field presences. The course is designed to benefit professionals in non-governmental organisations, national human rights institutions, governments, international governmental organisations, field operations, and interested academics and students. Further details on the 2012 Summer School, including contact details and names of expert speakers, please click here.
TRAINING PROGRAMME / JUSTICE SECTOR REFORM: APPLYING HUMAN RIGHTS BASED APPROACHES / NATIONAL UNIVERSITY OF IRELAND, MAYNOOTH [Contributed with thanks by Pamela Harney, International Human Rights Network]: The annual International Human Rights Network training programme will take place between June 25th and 29th, 2012. The programme is designed for people working in the justice sector or undertaking rule of law or governance assignments, or for justice sector personnel wishing to adapt their expertise for international consultancy work. Knowledge and skills enhanced include, amongst others: a) the legal principles, policies & practice underpinning human rights-based approaches to justice sector reform; b) the inter-linkages between justice sector roles (law enforcement, judiciary, corrections/rehabilitation, etc); c) the relationship between the justice sector and related terms – i.e. ‘security sector’, ‘rule of law’, ‘good governance’; d) human rights-based needs assessment, programme design, implementation, as well as monitoring & evaluation; e) case studies from national contexts as well as international field missions (including conflict and post-conflict); and f) teamwork, advocacy, strategic partnerships and consulting opportunities. Further information and application details, please click here.
COURSE / HUMAN RIGHTS FOR DEVELOPMENT (HR4DEV) COURSE / FLEMISH INTERUNIVERSITY RESEARCH NETWORK ON LAW AND DEVELOPMENT (LAW&DEV), THE CHILDREN’S RIGHTS KNOWLEDGE CENTRE (KeKi) AND THE INSTITUTE OF DEVELOPMENT POLICY AND MANAGEMENT (UNIVERSITY OF ANTWERP): The international course “Human Rights for Development” (HR4DEV) will take place from 30 July to 10 August 2012 in Antwerp, Belgium. The training programme targets ‘leaders of the future’ in practice, policy and academia, from the South and North. Some questions to be addressed during the course include: What are the potential and limits of human rights for development? What is the added value of children’s rights’ approaches to global problems such as poverty, environmental challenges, armed conflict and migration? In addition, this course can be combined with a two-week programme on ‘Children’s Rights in a Globalized World: Critical Approaches’, which takes places from 12 to 24 August. The deadline for applications has been extended to 30 April 2012. Please click here for further details and to submit applications.
COURSE / INTENSIVE COURSE ON HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS: CONCEPTS, IMPLEMENTATION AND IMPACT / HARVARD SCHOOL OF PUBLIC HEALTH: This intensive course will be held June 11 – 13, 2012. Recognizing the importance and utility of the intersection between health and human rights, this three-day intensive program equips professionals and leaders with the concepts, skills and tools to integrate human rights into their professional activities. Participants will acquire an in-depth knowledge of international human rights and humanitarian law through the lens of real-world application, especially in contexts of poverty, conflict and social upheaval. For more information and to register please click here.
RESOURCES: WEBSITES, GUIDES AND TOOLS
GENDER EQUITY INDEX 2012: THE GAP HAS NOT REACHED AN “ACCEPTABLE” LEVEL IN ANY COUNTRY / SOCIAL WATCH: The Gender Equality Index (GEI) 2012, published by Social Watch, indicates that the achievements made by women all over the world towards equity in education are still very far from making an impact on their having a fair share in the economy or in political power. The GEI prepared annually by Social Watch measures the gap between women and men in education, economy and political empowerment. The index is an average of the inequalities in the three dimensions – literacy, economic participation and empowerment For more information, click here.
REPORTS, ARTICLES AND BOOKS
REPORT / NO ONE LEFT BEHIND: GOOD PRACTICES TO ENSURE EQUITABLE ACCESS TO WATER AND SANITATION IN THE PAN-EUROPEAN REGION / UNECE: This report by the United Nations Economic Commission of Europe (UNECE) highlights the need to address unequal water access in Europe, stressing certain populations such as rural communities and marginalized groups are still not getting this vital resource.It provides guidance on how to address water access disparities, and showcases successful policies that have been implemented by governments, water operators and civil society. The report further underscores that social inclusion policies are needed to be able to provide water access to marginalized and vulnerable groups such as the homeless, disabled, sick, or those living in unsanitary housing, who are often unable to get access to safe drinking water. Increasing water prices are also singled out as a key factor for unequal water access in European Union countries, with the report highlighting how tariffs and social protection measures can help consumers cover the costs. The report is available in English and French. The report brochure is available in English, French and Russian.
06 MARCH 2012 / REPORT OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON FREEDOM OF RELIGION OR BELIEF, HEINER BIELEFELDT: State-sanctioned religions risk alienating minorities and discriminating against members of other faiths, warned Heiner Bielefeldt, an independent United Nations human rights expert. Speaking at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva where he presented his latest report on freedom of religion or belief and recognition issues, he urged governments around the world to ensure that ‘official’ religions do not discriminate against communities of other faiths within their jurisdictions. The new report explores the key issues affecting the right to religious freedom around the world – from the limits imposed on communities of faith by strict registration procedures to the potential risk that official State religions pose to minority groups. In addition, it distinguishes between three separate meanings of the concept of State ‘recognition’ of religion so as to avoid any potential misunderstandings which could affect freedom of religion or belief or even undermine it as a universal human right. He also called on States to offer “quick, transparent, fair, inclusive, and non-discriminatory” options for religious communities to achieve the status of legal personality, which is frequently necessary for a community to fully enjoy its freedom to worship. Access the report here.
06 MARCH 2012 / REPORT SUBMITTED BY THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE RIGHT TO FOOD, OLIVIER DE SCHUTTER TO THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL: United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter presented an official report, entitled ‘The right to an adequate diet: the agriculture-food-health nexus’ to the UN Human Rights Council on 06 March 2012. He warned that current food systems are making people sick: “One in seven people globally are undernourished, and many more suffer from the ‘hidden hunger’ of micronutrient deficiency, while 1.3 billion are overweight or obese.” Thus, “[f] aced with this public health crisis, we continue to prescribe medical remedies: nutrition pills and early-life nutrition strategies for those lacking in calories; slimming pills, lifestyle advice and calorie counting for the overweight. But we must tackle the systemic problems that generate poor nutrition in all its forms,” the independent expert said as he presented his report on nutrition to the UN Human Rights Council. Access the full report here.
05 MARCH 2012 / FOURTH ANNUAL REPORT OF THE SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR ON THE SITUATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS, MARGARET SEKAGGYA: The Special Rapporteur (the SR) on human rights defenders (HRDs), Margaret Sekaggya presented her fourth annual thematic report to the Human Rights Council (the Council). The report focused on HRDs at particular risk, including journalists and media workers, defenders working on environmental and land issues, and youth and student defenders. During the presentation of her report, Ms. Sekaggya noted that during the last year, the vulnerable groups highlighted in her report suffered both physical and legal harassment by State and non-State actors. “Journalists and media workers have been targeted because of their reports on human rights violations or because they were witnesses to human rights violations themselves”, said Ms. Sekaggya. Violations included killings, arrests, arbitrary detention, torture, and harassment. Furthermore, legal frameworks and tools such as censorship have been “used and abused” to restrict the work of HRDs. Read more here and click here to access the full report.
REPORT / COLLATERAL CONVICTS: CHILDREN OF INCARCERATED PARENTS, RECOMMENDATIONS AND GOOD PRACTICE FROM THE UN COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD DAY OF GENERAL DISCUSSION 2011 / THE QUAKER UNITED NATIONS OFFICE [Contributed with thanks by Rachel Brett, Quaker UN Office, Geneva]: The author, Oliver Robertson, draws together many of the examples of good policy and practice that were made at the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child’s Day of General Discussion (DGD) 2011, on the topic ‘Children of Incarcerated Parents’. It includes the written submissions made prior to the DGD, the oral interventions made by participants at the Day itself and at workshops before and after, and the speeches made by invited experts to the opening plenary session of the DGD. To access the report, click here.
REPORT / CHILDREN OF (ALLEGED) OFFENDERS: DRAFT FRAMEWORK FOR DECISION-MAKING / THE QUAKER UNITED NATIONS OFFICE [Contributed with thanks by Rachel Brett, Quaker UN Office, Geneva]: Authors Holly Mason-White and Helen F. Kearney provide a comprehensive exploration of the relevant child rights issues throughout the criminal justice process, from a parent’s arrest or detention to release following imprisonment. Suited to a diverse readership, it is possible to select only those stages of the process that may be immediately relevant (e.g. ‘arrest’ for police officers or ‘imprisonment’ for prison staff). To access the report, please click here. In addition, the authors welcome input from interested parties on the content, format and structure of this Draft Framework, and particularly welcome examples of good practice from countries not yet represented. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
ARTICLE / BRAZILIAN POLICY RESPONSES TO VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: GOVERNMENT STRATEGY AND THE HELP-SEEKING BEHAVIORS OF WOMEN WHO EXPERIENCE VIOLENCE / HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS: AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL: Despite a growing understanding of factors that may influence women’s vulnerability to violence and its effects, key questions about intervention options persist. Using evidence from a WHO household survey on domestic violence, the authors discuss women’s help-seeking patterns and consider these findings in relation to Brazil’s policies and strategies on violence against women. Findings from this survey indicate that the majority of women were likely to contact only informal sources of support, such as family, friends, and neighbors. Women who used formal services were primarily those who experienced more severe levels of violence, were severely injured, have children who witnessed the violence, or whose work was disrupted by the violence. To translate international standards and national policies into actions that genuinely reach women experiencing violence, states must carefully consider evidence on women’s options and decision making. Access the article here.
ARTICLE / INTERNATIONAL LAW’S INVISIBLE HAND AND THE FUTURE OF CORPORATE ACCOUNTABILITY FOR VIOLATIONS OF HUMAN RIGHTS / JOURNAL OF HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE ENVIRONMENT: In May 2011, the United Nations Special Representative of the Secretary-General on the Issue of Human Rights and Transnational Corporations and other Business Enterprises (SRSG), Professor John G Ruggie, submitted to the Human Rights Council his ‘Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’ aimed at implementing his ‘Protect, Respect and Remedy’ policy framework. The Council unanimously adopted the Guiding Principles at its June 2011 session. The author, Penelope Simons, contends that to address corporate impunity effectively, one cannot simply deal with the governance gaps alone. One must also identify and address the root causes of those gaps. She argues that corporate human rights impunity is deeply embedded in the international legal system and that along with the interventions of international financial institutions in the economies of developing states, one of the most significant impediments to corporate human rights accountability is the structure of the international legal system itself. It concludes with some recommendations for developing such obligations incrementally. To access the full article, click here.
ARTICLE / THE HUMAN RIGHTS FRAMEWORK IN CONTEMPORARY AGRARIAN STRUGGLES / JOURNAL OF PEASANT STUDIES: Important demands of contemporary rural social movements, such as the food sovereignty vision, have been increasingly framed as rights issues and by a rights discourse: for instance, food sovereignty is the ‘right’ of peoples to healthy and culturally appropriate food produced through ecologically sustainable methods, and their ‘right’ to define their own food systems. Historically, this concept may not be new. This issue of the ‘Grassroots Voices’ section of the Journal of Peasant Studies, guest edited by Sofia Monsalve of Foodfirst Information and Action Network (FIAN), attempts to shed light on why and how agrarian movements are now employing the human rights framework in their struggles, what have been the impacts of using it, and what are the limitations of using this framework to advance the cause of the rural poor. Access the full article here.
BULLETIN / QUARTERLY BULLETIN ON BUSINESS & CHILDREN / BUSINESS & HUMAN RIGHTS RESOURCE CENTRE: The non-profit Business & Human Rights Resource Centre has launched a Quarterly Bulletin on Business & Children in the six languages of the United Nations: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish. The bulletin aims to draw global attention to the many ways in which companies impact children’s rights, both positively and negatively. It also seeks to keep people informed about the important work that a range of organizations are doing on business and children’s rights. Access a press release here and the bulletin in six languages here.
NEWSLETTER / DIPLOMACY TRAINING PROGRAMME / MARCH EDITION [Contributed with thanks by Andre Frankovits, University of Sydney]: The Diplomacy Training Program (DTP) is an independent NGO which seeks to advance human rights and empower civil society in the Asia Pacific region through quality education and training, and the building of skills and capacity in non-governmental organisations and for individual human rights defenders and community advocates. DTP’s monthly newsletter, which provides information on programmes, projects, training opportunities, new publications, campaigns, urgent appeals, general human rights concerns and regional and country-specific news can be accessed here.
PRIMER / CENTRAL BANKS: DO THEY HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS? / A BOTTOM UP APPROACH TO RIGHTING FINANCIAL REGULATION [Contributed with thanks by Julia Kercher, UNDP New York]: In the second of a series of small briefs produced by the initiative “A bottom up approach to righting financial regulation” which comprises a consortium of networks and organizations with human rights advocacy mandates, the notion that Central Banks are independent is challenged. Central Banks, as organs of their governments, are subject to the human rights obligations of their governments. While the principle of the independence of Central Banks has frequently been used to shield them from transparency and accountability, the governance of central banks is a political choice, as derived from the legislative or administrative mandates that establish them. This new primer argues that “democratic central banks, as opposed to purely independent institutions, could be easier to hold to account to their human rights obligations.” To access the primer, please click here.
REPORT / WOMEN’S LIVES, WOMEN’S RIGHTS: CAMPAIGNING FOR MATERNAL HEALTH AND SEXUAL AND REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS / AMNESTY INTERNATIONAL [Contributed with thanks by Julia Kercher, UNDP New York]: Women and girls have the right to make their own decisions about their lives and their sexual and reproductive health. Yet the discrimination they face means they are denied this right. When they die or are injured in pregnancy or childbirth the devastating impact of this denial of rights is only too clear. With access to health care, information and decision-making power, these deaths and injuries are easily preventable. The report urges governments to ensure that women and girls are able to claim their sexual and reproductive rights. Access the report in English, French and Spanish.
REPORT / GLOBAL REPORT ON THE SITUATION OF WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS / WOMEN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS INTERNATIONAL COALITION (WHRD IC): This new report features 43 case studies, which demonstrate the links and differences in women human rights defenders identities, working environments and the violations they face. The report analyses their experience through the examination of several contexts, such as militarization, and through particular thematic areas of work, such as reproductive rights. It points to the urgent need for increased, systematic and more thorough documentation of human rights violations against women human rights defenders and underlines the importance of recognising that the risks women’s rights defenders face differ from those of human rights defenders in general; risks can be gender-specific and often have gendered consequences, such as threats or violence of a sexual nature, verbal abuse which targets women rights defenders’ gender, or exclusion due to their gender. In order to ensure the effective, long-term protection of the rights of women human rights defenders, the report recommends that these defenders participate in the planning and application of strategies designed to protect and assist them. Access the report here.
HURITALK NETWORK HAPPENINGS
ONGOING / E-DISCUSSION / UN ENGAGEMENT WITH THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW (UPR) – OPPORTUNITIES AND STRATEGIES FOR UN AND NATIONAL PROGRAMMING: An e-Discussion on UN Engagement with the UPR has been launched and will run from 16 April to 28 May 2012, organized by HuriTALK and cross-posted on the UN Coordination Practice network (CPN-net) and UNDP’s Democratic Governance Practice network (DGP-net). As the first cycle of the UPR, reviewing the human rights records of all UN member states has come to an end and the second cycle will being in May 2012, it is timely to build on the knowledge generated in the first cycle and to expand the opportunities to utilize the UPR to advance UN and national programming, with a view of supporting member states in implementing UPR recommendations. You can participate in the e-Discussion via email if you are a member of HuriTALK or click here to receive an invitation to participate in the discussion on an online UN platform where you can post your comments and access relevant resources related to the discussion. We encourage you to share your knowledge and experience!
Launch of “Maastricht Principles on the Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights”
Geneva, 5 March 2012 / At a side event during the 19th session of the Human Rights Council, the new “Maastricht Principles on the Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights” were officially launched. Drafted by the International Commission of Jurists, and finalized in October 2011, these international legal principles clarify the human rights obligations of States beyond their own borders. The principles were adopted by the experts in their individual capacity. Access the Maastricht principles here; access a commentary by international human rights experts here.
29 FEBRUARY 2012 / 19th SESSION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL / PANEL DISCUSSION ON THE PROMOTION AND PROTECTION OF FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION ON THE INTERNET [Contributed, with thanks, by Zanofer Ismalebbe, UNDP Geneva]: This panel represents the first time that the issue of internet freedom was discussed comprehensively in the context of human rights. In her opening remarks, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Ms. Pillay, stated the internet had become an indispensable tool for people to receive information and to become providers of information. Human rights defenders have been particularly quick to capitalize on audio-visual and crowd sourcing capacities that the internet offers to document human rights violations and share these with a global audience. The UN Special Rapporteur on the promotion of the right to freedom of opinion and expression remarked that new standards on human rights were not needed because human rights principles applied off line and on line and whether through oral, written or any other form of expression the same basic freedom of expression principles would apply. View a video of the debate here and read more here.
28 FEBRUARY 2012 / 19th SESSION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL / PANEL DEBATE ON MAINSTREAMING HUMAN RIGHTS [Contributed, with thanks, by Emilie Filmer-Wilson, UNDOCO New York, and Flavia Bustreo, WHO Geneva]: The 19th session of the Human Rights Council included a high-level panel debate on human rights mainstreaming in development cooperation. Many UN Agencies intervened and provided examples on how their organization has contributed to mainstreaming human rights in development programming. For example, WHO provided examples of human rights-based approaches to improve people’s health, ranging from the International Health Regulations to the Commission on Information and Accountability for Women’s and Children’s Health to the establishment of a new team in WHO tasked with mainstreaming gender, equity and human rights at all levels of the Organization. Access a video of the plenary debate here. Access WHO’s statement here. Access videos of the following interventions: FAO, ILO, OHCHR, UNDP, UNICEF, UN Secretary-General, World Bank, WHO.
16 FEBRUARY 2012 / GENERAL ASSEMBLY RESOLUTION BACKING ARAB LEAGUE EFFORTS TO RESOLVE THE CRISIS IN SYRIA: The General Assembly adopted a resolution backing Arab League efforts to resolve the crisis in Syria. The resolution, co-sponsored by more than 70 Member States, is very similar to a Security Council resolution vetoed on 4 February 2011. The General Assembly resolution contains stronger language on accountability, including for those violations that may amount to crimes against humanity. General Assembly President Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser said the resolution “demonstrates the world’s concern, commitment and solidarity with the Syrian people, especially regarding the protection of civilians and the overall situation in Syria… [it] also shows that Member States, through the UN General Assembly, are willing to act to maintain stability.” Read more here.
4 FEBRUARY 2012 / LAUNCH OF THE CHILDREN’S LAW OF LIBERIA: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf officially launched the Children’s Law of Liberia to protect children and their right to participate meaningfully in their development. The law is one of the most comprehensive pieces of children’s rights legislation in the African continent and is largely based on the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, ratified by Liberia in 1993 and 1992 respectively. Liberia is one of the first countries to adopt comprehensive legislation for children that incorporates the UNCRC and the African Charter. This new law reflects the government’s commitment to support the progressive realization of all rights for all children including their right to health, education, freedom from violence, abuse, and exploitation, as well as their right to participate meaningfully in their own development. Read more here.
NEWS FROM THE HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES:
CALL FOR INPUTS / COMMITTEE ON THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES REQUESTS INPUTS ON THE IMPLEMENTATION OF MEASURES OF ACCESSIBILITY FOR PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES: The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) requires that State Parties take appropriate measures to ensure to persons with disabilities access, on an equal basis with others, to the physical environment, to transportation, to information and communications, including information and communications technologies and systems and to other facilities and services open or provided to the public, both in urban and in rural areas. The Committee puts forth an official call for submission of practical and theoretical papers on implementation of the Article 9 on accessibility of the Convention. The deadline for submissions is 15 March 2012. Read more here.
CALL FOR INPUTS / CEDAW COMMITTEE’S ASIA PACIFIC REGIONAL SITUATIONS CONSULTATION ON THE PROPOSED GENERAL RECOMMENDATION ON HUMAN RIGHTS OF WOMEN IN SITUATIONS OF CONFLICT AND POST-CONFLICT: The CEDAW Committee is calling for national and regional level women’s rights groups, NGOs and networks in the Asia Pacific actively engaged in protecting women’s rights during conflict and in peace-building and reconstruction processes during the post-conflict & transition settings, to submit written submissions to the CEDAW Committee’s Working Group organising the CEDAW Committee’s Asia Pacific Regional Consultation on the Proposed General Recommendation on Human Rights of Women in Situations of Conflict and Post-conflict, which will take place on 27-28 March 2012 in Bangkok. The deadline for submissions is 25 March 2012. Read more here.
28 FEBRUARY 2012 / OPTIONAL PROTOCOL TO THE CONVENTION ON THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD ON A COMMUNICATIONS PROCEDURE FOR VIOLATIONS OF CHILDREN’S RIGHTS OPENED FOR SIGNATURE: The new Optional Protocol, which was adopted on 19 December 2011 by the General Assembly, will allow children and their representatives to bring complaints to the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC). The creation of this new instrument illustrates the recognition that children, just like adults, should have equal access to international human rights bodies and the international system of accountability for rights violations. Twenty States signed the Protocol on the day the day it opened for signature. Ten States need to ratify the Protocol before it can enter into force. Read more here.
13 FEBRUARY – 2 MARCH 2012 / 51ST SESSION OF THE COMMITTEE ON THE ELIMINATION OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN: The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) held its fifty-first session from 13 February to 2 March 2012. It reviewed reports by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Grenada, Norway, Brazil, Zimbabwe, Algeria and Jordan on how they implement the provisions of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women. Read more here.
20-24 FEBRUARY 2012 / EIGHTH SESSION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADVISORY COMMITTEE: The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee during its eighth session worked on requests addressed to it by the Council. It discussed a report “‘promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of the traditional values of humankind”, which has raised concerns with human rights practitioners particularly on the question how concepts such as “traditional values” and “dignity” would be interpreted in relation to human rights. Read more here and here.
20-24 FEBRUARY 2012 / EIGHTH SESSION OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ADVISORY COMMITTEE: The Human Rights Council Advisory Committee during its eighth session worked on requests addressed to it by the Council. It discussed a report “‘promoting human rights and fundamental freedoms through a better understanding of the traditional values of humankind”, which has raised concerns with human rights practitioners particularly on the question how concepts such as “traditional values” and “dignity” would be interpreted in relation to human rights. Read more here and here.
UN WORK IN FOCUS:
UN PARTNERSHIP TO PROMOTE THE RIGHTS OF PERSONS WITH DISABILITIES (UNPRPD):The realization that disability and development are intertwined persuaded Member States in 2006 to adopt the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which “provides an opportunity to strengthen the policies related to and the implementation of the Millennium Development Goals, thereby contributing to the realization of a ‘society for all’ in the twenty-first century.” Further to this, six UN entities – ILO, OHCHR, UNDESA, UNDP, UNICEF and WHO – joined hands to launch a unique collaborative effort – the UN Partnership to Promote the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNPRPD) – that brings together the UN system, governments, Disabled People’s Organizations (DPOs) and other partners to promote the rights of persons with disabilities. In December 2011, a Multi-Donor Trust Fund was launched to generate and manage resources in support of the work of the UNPRPD. This Fund will make funding available to countries for work on disability rights. Access a brochure about UNPRPD here. Access more resources about human rights and disability here.
THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT / REPORT FROM THE UN SECRETARY-GENERAL AND THE HIGH COMMISSIONER FOR HUMAN RIGHTS: This report contains a summary of the activities undertaken by OHCHR with regard to the promotion and realization of the right to development, including in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the right to development in 2011. It underscores the seminal importance of human rights-based policy coherence in the global partnership for development, and requires full mainstreaming of all human rights, including the right to development, into the work of the United Nations system, most importantly in the upcoming quadrennial comprehensive policy review and in the post-2015 development agenda. Access the report (A/HRC/19/45) here.
AWARDS, LEARNING AND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES:
LAUNCH OF THE GLOBAL LEGAL EMPOWERMENT NETWORK [Contributed, with thanks, by Peter Chapman, World Bank]: The Global Legal Empowerment Network, hosted by the new legal empowerment organization Namati, provides a forum for those committed to legal empowerment — community paralegals, concerned citizens, NGOs, development agencies, public interest lawyers, journalists, government officials — to share tools and information. The network grows out of several years of discussion among legal empowerment practitioners, convened with the help of the Open Society Justice Initiative and the World Bank’s Justice for the Poor Program and is a forum for learning from one another, and for building a broader, stronger legal empowerment movement. You can join the network here.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS / HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS: AN INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL: Health and Human Rights, an international journal published semi-annually by the FXB Center for Health and Human Rights at the Harvard School of Public Health, is currently welcoming submissions. The editors invite submissions of original articles, manuscripts for the review section, as well as fieldwork summaries, short opinion or perspective essays. Themes of particular interest include: (1) climate change and the right to health; (2) health rights and effectiveness of international treaty law; (3) interdisciplinary explorations of health and human rights; (4) rights-informed innovations in health program design; and (5) health and human rights as “well-being.” Access more information here.
COURSE / PROFESSIONAL TRAINING ON ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS / GENEVA ACADEMY OF INTERNATIONAL HUMANITARIAN LAW AND HUMAN RIGHTS / 7-11 MAY 2012, GENEVA: The Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights at the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights announces its fifth annual Advanced Training on Monitoring Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which will take place in Geneva, Switzerland from the 7th to 11th May 2012. The course is designed for human rights advocates, staff of NGOs and national human rights institutions, representatives of governments, and staff of UN bodies and other international organizations, as well as members of the academia, with in-depth knowledge on monitoring aspects related to economic, social and cultural rights, and comprehensive knowledge on how to enhance their work on monitoring ESC rights. Access more information here.
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS / PROGRAM OF ADVANCED STUDIES ON HUMAN RIGHTS / 28 MAY-15 JUNE, WASHINGTON, D.C.: The American University, Washington College of Law is offering an intensive three-week course on human rights and humanitarian law. The course – offered in English and Spanish – takes place between 28 May and 15 June 2012. Examples of course offerings include: European Human Rights Law, Human Rights and International Tribunals, International Justice for Human Rights Violations, among many others. The deadline for applications is 1 May 2012. For more information, please click here.
CALL FOR APPLICATIONS / EUROPEAN MASTER’S DEGREE IN HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRATISATION / THE EUROPEAN INTER-UNIVERSITY CENTRE FOR HUMAN RIGHTS AND DEMOCRATISATION (EIUC): The European Inter-University Centre for Human Rights and Democratisation (EIUC) has launch the 16th edition of its European Master’s Degree in Human Rights and Democratisation (E.MA) 2012/2013. E.MA is an intensive one-year master’s programme aimed at educating professionals in human rights, democracy, peace and development. The programme offers an action- and policy-oriented approach to learning, which combines interdisciplinary perspectives with skills building activities. The deadline for applications is 31 March 2012. For more information, please click here or here.
CALL FOR SUBMISSIONS / HUMAN DEVELOPMENT & CAPABILITY ASSOCATION (HDCA) CONFERENCE 2012 [Contributed, with thanks, by Carola Carazzone, Volontariato Internazionale Per Lo Sviluppo, Rome]: Submission of abstract/papers is invited for Annual International Human Development & Capability Association (HDCA) conference 2012 (Jakarta, 5-7 September). The conference theme this year is “Revisiting Development: Do we assess it correctly?” The various themes and sub-themes include: a) Externalities and “green” economy, b) how to assess inclusion, c) local economic development, d) multidimensional vulnerability, e) assessing the effectiveness of different welfare program interventions, f) democracy and human development, g) “What is poor?” Re-assessing the lives and needs of the poor. The deadline for submissions is 15 March 2012. The call for papers can be accessed here; access more information about the conference here.
PARTNERSHIP / WOMEN AND ESCR WORKING GROUP OF ESCR-NET AND THE WOMEN’S HUMAN RIGHTS TRAINING INSTITUTE: The Women and ESCR working group of ESCR-Net is formally partnering with the Women’s Human Rights Training Institute coordinated by the Bulgarian Gender Research Foundation, the Center for Reproductive Rights and the Network of East West Women. The participation of the Women and ESCR working group will facilitate the focus on economic and social rights advocacy and litigation. The Institute is a unique initiative founded in 2004 as a first-of-its-kind programme aimed at building the capacity of young lawyers from Central and Eastern European and the Newly Independent States for litigation on women’s rights issues, including: violence against women, sexual and reproductive health and rights, and employment discrimination. Access more information here.
BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS / HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION ASSOCIATES (HREA) AND THE HUMAN RIGHTS CENTRE OF THE UN MANDATED UNIVERSITY FOR PEACE (UPEACE) / MAY-19 JUNE 2012 [Contributed, with thanks, by Frank Elbers, HREA]: HREA and UPEACE will be offering a short certificate course that critically examines the business-human rights nexus with a particular focus on case studies from around the world. Several questions such as the human rights obligations of businesses, the manner in which human rights are affected by businesses including during armed conflicts, the specific linkages with the right to environment and labour rights and the ever elusive solution for accountability will be examined, as well as the concept of corporate social responsibility. The deadline for applications is 15 March 2012. Read more and apply online here.
HUMAN RIGHTS-BASED PROGRAMMING / HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION ASSOCIATION (HREA) / 25 APRIL-10 JULY 2012 [Contributed, with thanks, by Frank Elbers, HREA]: In this specialised e-learning course participants will deepen their knowledge about project and programme development from a human rights perspective and learn how to apply the principles of equity, empowerment, participation and accountability to various phases of project planning and implementation. Participants will also gain sensitivity to how programmes can integrate non-discriminatory practice and give attention to vulnerable groups. The course will focus on practical tools for human rights situation assessment, programme planning, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation within the rights-based conceptual framework. The deadline for applications was 25 February 2012 – but there are still a few places available. Read more and apply online here.
THE UNITED NATIONS HUMAN RIGHTS SYSTEM / HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION ASSOCIATES (HREA) / 21 MAY-1 JULY 2012 [Contributed, with thanks, by Frank Elbers, HREA]: Human Rights Education Associates (HREA) will be offering short certificate course introducing the UN human rights system. The course will introduce the core UN human rights standards and discuss their universality. It will present the UN treaty bodies which monitor compliance with human rights treaties, the Human Rights Council and its mandate, role achievements and failures since its took over from the dissolved Commission on Human Rights in 2006, and the Council’s subsidiary bodies. The deadline for applications is 15 March 2012. Read more and apply online here.
RESOURCES – WEBSITES, GUIDES AND TOOLS:
ONLINE TOOL / LAUNCH OF INFORMATION PLATFORM ON THE RIGHT TO DEVELOPMENT / UNITAR AND OHCHR [Contributed, with thanks, by Ayuush Bat-Erdene, OHCHR GENEVA]: Dedicated to the 25th anniversary of the 1986 United Nations Declaration on the Right to Development, the United Nations Institute for Research and Training (UNITAR) and the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) have launched on 20 February 2012 an information platform (online e-learning course) on the Right to Development. The platform will remain open until the end of October 2012. The course has four modules: (1) Introduction (2) Historical background (3) United Nations mechanisms on the Right to Development, and (4) The Right to Development responds to contemporary challenges, each followed by short quizzes. The course is free and available to all interested participants. Access the course here.
TOOLKIT / RIGHT TO ADEQUATE HOUSING [Contributed, with thanks, by Bharam Ghazi, OHCHR Geneva]: OHCHR has launched a web-based “toolkit” on the right to adequate housing. This toolkit gathers in one place reports, guidance notes, methodologies and other useful tools produced by OHCHR, human rights mechanisms and other UN agencies on the right to adequate housing. It also contains information on housing rights issues such as forced evictions and displacement as well as the right to adequate housing of specific groups including women, indigenous peoples and migrants. Access the toolkit here. Access more resources about the right to land, housing, and property here.
LEGAL GUIDE / AFRICAN COURT OF HUMAN AND PEOPLE’S RIGHTS (ACHPR): The ACHPR has jurisdiction to consider all cases and disputes referred to it concerning the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights (the African Charter), the Court Protocol and any other relevant human rights instrument ratified by the state(s) concerned. This guide by Kate Stone introduces the African Court for Human and People’s Rights with a special focus on individuals and NGOs who wish to access the ACHPR. Access the guide here.
REPORTS, ARTICLES AND BOOKS:
OHCHR ESCR BULLETIN / JANUARY 2012 EDITION [Contributed, with thanks, by Lynn Gentile, OHCHR Geneva]: Issued every two months, the OHCHR ESCR Bulletin aims to share news, activities, key events and new resources relevant to economic, social and cultural rights (ESCR), with a focus on the work of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR). Highlights in the latest bulletin includes: news of the High Commissioner’s report on gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination; the ratifications of OP-ICESCR by Bolivia and Bosnia and Herzegovina; an announcement of the launch of the updated UN Practitioner’s Portal on Human Rights-Based Approaches to programming; reviews of various ‘activities in the field;’ and an overview of recent events, including recent cases, legislation and policies. To access the bulletin, please click here.
REPORT / THE STATE OF THE WORLD’S CHILDREN 2012: CHILDREN IN AN URBAN WORLD / UNICEF: In The State of the World’s Children 2012: Children in an Urban World, UNICEF focuses on children’s rights in urban settings. In a few years, the report says, the majority of children will grow up in towns or cities rather than in rural areas. Those children whose needs are greatest also face the greatest violations of their rights. The hardships children endure in urban areas may include hunger and ill health; substandard housing; poor access to water and sanitation; and insufficient education and protection. Access the report here.
ARTICLE / THE POTENTIAL OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS BASED APPROACH FOR THE EVOLUTION OF THE UNITED NATIONS AS A SYSTEM / HUMAN RIGHTS REVIEW [Contributed, with thanks, by Alisa Clarke]: The author, Alisa Clarke, argues that while the UN faces increasingly intense challenges in the fulfillment of its mission, it also harbors the potential for enhanced effectiveness, relevance, and legitimacy in the form of the human rights-based approach (HRBA). HRBA is one model for translating the organization’s values into a more adaptive, inclusive, dynamic, and responsive system of processes and outcomes. Application of the HRBA in programming is leading to greater appreciation for addressing core disparities and promoting empowerment for sustainable outcomes. It is also cultivating new qualities in development practitioners, advancing creativity, openness and responsiveness in organizational culture. With the use of the HRBA, the UN as a system has the potential for deeper, longer-term mission fulfillment and thus ensuring its viability. Access the article here.
ARTICLE / FILLING THE GAP: A LEARNING NETWORK FOR HEALTH AND HUMAN RIGHTS IN THE WESTERN CAPE, SOUTH AFRICA: The authors, Leslie London, Nicolé Fick, Khai Hoan Tram, and Maria Stuttaford draw on the experience of a Learning Network for Health and Human Rights (LN) involving collaboration between academic institutions and civil society organizations in the Western Cape, South Africa, aimed at identifying and disseminating best practice related to the right to health. The LN’s work in materials development, participatory research, and training and capacity-building for action illustrates important lessons for human rights practice. Evidence from evaluation of the LN is presented to support the argument that civil society can play a key role in bridging a gap between formal state commitment to creating a human rights culture and realizing services and policies that enable the most vulnerable members of society to advance their health. Access the article here.
ARTICLE / HUMAN RIGHTS ACCOUNTABILITY OF INTERNATIONAL ADMINISTRATIONS: THEORY AND PRACTICE IN EAST TIMOR: Following the conduct of a popular consultation, the UN Security Council established the ‘United Nations Transitional Authority in East Timor’ (UNTAET), an international operation endowed with full executive and legislative powers. UNTAET functioned as a government for almost three years, during which the international presence gradually transferred authority to the East Timorese institutions it had been asked to set up. This article explores the human rights accountability of international administrations, using the case of Timor Leste as an example. Access the article here.
BLOG / TOWARDS JUSTICE IN DEVELOPMENT [Contributed, with thanks, by Peter Chapman, World Bank]: A post in the World Bank’s Governance for Development blog, discussing strategies for justice reform that might better respond to marginalized communities. Access the blog here.
BOOK / HUMAN RIGHTS, STATE COMPLIANCE, AND SOCIAL CHANGE [contributed, with thanks, by Thomas Pegram, Trinity College, Dublin]: National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) have gained recognition as a possible missing link in the transmission and implementation of international human rights norms at the domestic level. They are also increasingly accepted as important participants in global and regional forums where international norms are produced. By collecting innovative work from experts spanning international law, political science, sociology and human rights practice, this new book, edited by Ryan Goodman and Thomas Pegram, critically examines the significance of this relatively new class of organizations. It focuses, in particular, on the prospects of these institutions to effectuate state compliance and social change. Access a preview of the book here.
BOOK / VINDICATING SOCIO-ECONOMIC RIGHTS: INTERNATIONAL STANDARDS AND COMPARATIVE EXPERIENCES: Notwithstanding the widespread and persistent affirmation of the indivisibility and equal worth of all human rights, socio-economic rights continue to be treated as the “Cinderella” of the human rights corpus. At a domestic level this has resulted in little appetite for the explicit recognition and judicial enforcement of such rights in constitutional democracies. This study, drawing on comparative experiences in a number of jurisdictions which have addressed the issue of socio-economic rights, seeks to counter this argument by showing that courts can play a substantial role in the vindication of socio-economic rights, while still respecting the relative institutional prerogatives of the elected branches of government. The text incorporates discussion of the likely impact and significance of the Optional Protocol to the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and looks at the implications of the Mazibuko decision for the development of South Africa’s socio-economic rights jurisprudence. Access a preview of the book here.
BOOK / THE UN CONVENTION ON THE ELIMINATION OF ALL FORMS OF DISCRIMINATION AGAINST WOMEN: A COMMENTARY: Edited by Marsha A. Freeman, Christine Chinkin and Beate Rudolf, this volume is the first comprehensive commentary on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women and its Optional Protocol. The Commentary describes the application of the Convention through the work of its monitoring body, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women. It comprises detailed analyses of the Preamble and each article of the Convention and of the Optional Protocol, by chapter authors from various countries. It also includes a separate chapter on the cross-cutting substantive issue of violence against women. Access a preview of the book here.
BOOK / THE RIGHT TO HEALTH IN INTERNATIONAL LAW: The link between health and human rights has been recognized for many years, but the increasing visibility of the right to health in international law has been a distinct feature of the last decade. This book, authored by John Tobin, seeks to offer a comprehensive discussion of the status and meaning of the right to health in international law. It traces the history of this right to reveal its nexus with public health and the long-standing recognition that a State has a responsibility to attend to the health needs of its population. It also offers a theoretical account of its conceptual foundations which challenges the position held by many philosophers that health is undeserving of the status of a human right. Access a preview of the book here.
CONFERENCE REPORT / RIGHTS AND ACCOUNTABILITY – THE WAY AHEAD FOR BUSINESS AND HUMAN RIGHTS: This Report summarizes the outcomes of the Conference‚ ‘Right and Accountability: The Way Ahead for Business and Human Rights,’ which was held at the premises of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) in Berlin on 21-22 November 2011. The Conference was organized by MISEREOR, the European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), the FES, Germanwatch, and the German civil society networks Forum Human Rights and Corporate Accountability (CorA). Conference participants discussed the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, with a particular focus on the perspective of those affected by misconduct by transnational corporations and their access to remedy. Access the report here.
FACTSHEET / CENTRAL BANKS: DO THEY HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS OBLIGATIONS?: As part of a partnership between ESCR-Net members, Center of Concern, Centre for Economic & Social Rights, AWID, CIVICUS, DAWN, Social Watch and iBase30, and authored by James Heintz of the Political Economy Research Institute, the second in a series of factsheets exploring the links between financial regulation and human rights have been released. The release of these factsheets is part of a broader initiative named ‘A Bottom Up Approach to Righting Financial Regulation’. Further factsheets discussing the Human Rights and a Financial Transaction Tax, Human Rights and the G20 will be released throughout 2012. Access the factsheet here.
GUIDELINES / SUPPORTING WIN-WIN ENGAGEMENTS BETWEEN COMMUNITIES AND AGRIBUSINESS INVESTORS IN TIMOR-LESTE [Contributed, with thanks, by Peter Chapman, World Bank]: In Timor-Leste 75% of the population lives in rural areas, where subsistence agriculture is the main economic activity. Many of these communities wish to increase their production by using modern farming inputs and machinery. Working with agribusiness investors is one way of improving production and increasing incomes. Justice for the Poor research reveals difficulties in developing equitable and productive relationships between rural communities and private investors. These guidelines are designed to assist agribusiness investors and community members to identify the key issues and suggest ways to support win-win cooperation. Access the publication here (also in Tetum and Bahasa). J4P and the CoCITL also developed specific advice for community members: Working with Agribusiness Investors in Timor-Leste: Guidelines for Community Members (Also in Tetum and Bahasa).
REPORT / ACCESS TO JUSTICE – HUMAN RIGHTS ABUSES INVOLVING CORPORATIONS NIGERIA / INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTS: This report critically examines the judicial and non-judicial remedies available under Nigerian law to victims of human rights abuses committed with the participation of companies. It aims to achieve this by assessing the efficacy of the existing regulatory frameworks, identifying the major obstacles that victims experience in holding companies accountable for conduct in contravention of their human rights responsibilities, and outlining recommendations that should help in overcoming these obstacles. Access the report here.
REPORT / (BIO)FUELING INJUSTICE? EUROPE’S RESPONSIBILITY TO COUNTER CLIMATE CHANGE WITHOUT PROVOKING LAND GRABBING AND COMPOUNDING FOOD INSECURITY IN AFRICA: This report, by FIAN International and EuropAfrica, finds that the EU and its Members States violate their extra-territorial obligations to respect, protect and fulfil economic, social and cultural rights in Africa, using the recently adopted Maastricht Principles on Extraterritorial Obligations of States in the area of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. The report reviews the impact of the EU biofuel policy in Africa, and concludes that it harms human rights and affects governance in several direct and indirect ways. Access the report here.