UNITED NATIONS NEWS
10 DECEMBER 2014 / MARKING INTERNATIONAL OBSERVANCE, UN DECLARES ‘EVERY DAY IS HUMAN RIGHTS DAY’: 10 December – The universal reach of human rights should not be restricted to one day alone but extended to every day of the year, top United Nations officials declared today as they marked Human Rights Day – an annual UN-backed event commemorating the date on which the General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The UN Human Rights Policy network published a Special Edition featuring the events and initiatives that colleagues throughout the UN system did to celebrate Human Rights this year. The HuriTALK Human Rights Day Special Editions is available here. Read more here. Read the UN Secretary-Generals message here. Read the UN Rights Chiefs statement here.
10 DECEMBER 2014 / UN AGENCIES ISSUE JOINT STATEMENT EXPRESSING CONCERN ABOUT SERIOUS HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS AFFECTING MIGRANTS, ASYULM-SEEKER AND REFUGEES: A number of UN Agencies including UNHCR, IOM, IMO, UNODC and OHCR have released a joint statement that expressed deep concern about the loss of life, injury, trauma and serious human rights violations affecting migrants, asylum-seekers and refugees traveling by sea. The statement further calls on closer cooperation between States of origin, transit and destination, and other relevant actors, to reduce the loss of life at sea, and in addressing the drivers of dangerous sea journeys, as well as ensuring that responses by States upon arrival and disembarkation uphold human rights and dignity. Read more here.
25 NOVEMBER 2014 / INTERNATIONAL DAY TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: UN SOUNDS ALARM TO END ‘GLOBAL PANDEMIC’ OF VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN: Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic that destroys lives, fractures communities and holds back development, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said as the world body marked the International Day to End Violence against Women. Speaking at an Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) event at Headquarters he said that “violence against women and girls does not emerge from nowhere. It is simply the most extreme example of the political, financial, social and economic oppression of women and girls worldwide.” Read more here. Read the UN Secretary-Generals full statement here.
20 NOVEMBER 2014 / UN CHAMPIONS CHILDREN AS ‘FUNDAMENTAL BUILDING BLOCK,’ MARKING 25TH ANNIVERSARY OF HISTORIC TREATY: As countries around the world celebrate the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the United Nations family today hailed the landmark treaty as a powerful human rights tool, while taking stock of the long-standing disparities that must be addressed to propel actions for the well-being of all children into the future. Opening a high-level meeting this morning at UN Headquarters in New York, the President of the General Assembly, Sam Kutesa, underscored that the Convention is a collective commitment to ensure that every child worldwide has the right to a fair start in life, calling on Member States to safeguard that such rights are fully reflected in the post-2015 development agenda. Read more here.
NEWS FROM THE HUMAN RIGHTS BODIES
17 DECEMBER 2014 / UN SPECIAL PROCEDURES URGE THE WORLD BANK TO RECOGNIZE THE CENTRAL IMPORTANCE OF HUMAN RIGHTS TO ITS DRAFT ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIAL POLICIES: The United Nations Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Philip Alston, has urged the World Bank to recognize the central importance of human rights to its draft environmental and social policies which apply to its investment project financing. The draft Safeguards policies were released by the Bank in July for public consultation, as part of the multi-stage review. “The draft Safeguards seem to go out of their way to avoid any meaningful references to human rights,” Mr. Alston stressed, in a joint letter, dated 12 December 2014, to World Bank president Jim Yong Kim, together with a group of twenty-seven other independent experts of the largest fact-finding and monitoring mechanism of the UN human rights system. The UN experts signaled that the move away from a requirements-based Safeguards system to an aspirational one represents a clear dilution of existing protections, as does the significant delegation of responsibilities from the Bank to other actors. Read more here. Read the joint letter addressed to the World Bank here.
9 DECEMBER 2014 / SPECIAL PROCEDURES MANDATE HOLDERS JOINT STATEMENT MAKING CRITICAL LINK BETWEEN CLIMATE CHANGE AND HUMAN RIGHTS: The largest body of independent experts in the United Nations Human Rights system urged all Governments around the world to integrate human rights standards and principles in the current negotiations taking place at the Lima Climate Change Conference (1-12 December 2014), and in the agreement to be adopted in Paris in 2015. In a joint statement issued in Geneva ahead of Human Rights Day (10 December 2014), the group of 76 human human rights experts urged the UN member States to ensure that the principle of climate justice is at the core of climate change governance. Read more here. Read the full statement by the Coordination Committee of international experts in Spanish here and in English here.
8 DECEMBER 2014 / HUMAN RIGHTS COUNCIL ELECTS NEW PRESIDENT AND VICE-PRESIDENTS AND THE THEME OF THE 2015 HIGH-LEVEL PANEL ON HUMAN RIGHTS MAINSTREAMING: The Human Rights Council elected its new bureau for 2015 at an organizational meeting appointing Ambassador Joachim Ruecker, Permanent Representative of Germany to the United Nations Office at Geneva, to serve as its President for a term beginning on 1 January 2015. The 47 members of the Human Rights Council also decided that the theme for the 2015 high-level panel on human rights mainstreaming, to be held during the upcoming 28th regular session of the Council on 3 March 2015, will be “strengthening of international cooperation in the field of human rights.” Read more here.
5 NOVEMBER 2014 / UN RIGHTS PANELS OUTLINE STATES’ OBLIGATION TO PREVENT HARMFUL PRACTICES ON WOMEN, GIRLS: For the first time, two United Nations human rights committees have joined forces to issue a comprehensive interpretation of the obligations of States to prevent and eliminate harmful practices inflicted on women and girls, such as female genital mutilation, crimes committed in the name of so-called honour, forced and child marriage, and polygamy. The Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC) released the Joint General Recommendation/General Comment. The objective of the General Recommendation/General Comment is to clarify the obligations of States parties to the Convention to Eliminate All Forms of Discrimination against Women and to the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Read more here. Access the full text of the CEDAW General Recommendation/CRC General Comment (CEDAW/C/GC/31/CRC/C/GC/18) here.
3 NOVEMBER 2014 / CONVENTION AGAINST TORTURE CELEBRATES 30TH ANNIVERSARY – UN RIGHTS EXPERT URGES UNIVERSAL RATIFICATION: As the thirtieth anniversary of the adoption of an international legal framework to prevent torture and other types of inhumane treatment or punishment approaches, a United Nations rights expert urged the committee charged with monitoring its implementation to use the momentum garnered in the celebrations to accelerate efforts to move towards universal ratification of the treaty. Ibrahim Salama, Director of the Human Rights Treaties Division of the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), stressed that events to celebrate the anniversary of the adoption of The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, should be seen as opportunities to address the achievements and challenges in the promotion of universal ratification and in the implementation of the Convention’s provisions by State parties. Read more here.
UN WORK IN FOCUS
25 NOVEMBER – 10 DECEMBER / UN AGENCIES CAMPAIGN REINFORCES THAT VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IS A HUMAN RIGHTS ISSUE: UN Agencies, Programmes and Funds participated in the 16 Days of Activism against Gender Violence, an international campaign, from November 25 (International Day Against Violence against Women) and that culminated on December 10 (International Human Rights Day) to reinforce the fact that violence against women is a human rights issue. UN WOMEN, WHO, UNDP, UNFPA and OHCHR were amongst the UN Agencies that lead efforts and events about violence against women and girls around the world. This year, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women invited the public to “Orange YOUR Neighbourhood,” between 25 November and 10 December 2014. Read more here. Read the WHO’s 16 facts on violence against women here; read more on the events lead by UN Women and UNDP in Albania here; and read the stories of courageous women from around the world shared by OHCHR here.
AWARDS, LEARNING AND TRAINING OPPORTUNITIES
COURSE / INDIGENOUS STUDIES SUMMER PROGRAM ON INDIGENOUS PEOPLES’ RIGHTS AND POLICY / COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY, 26 MAY – 6 JUNE: The Center for the Study of Ethnicity and Race is accepting applications from researchers, professionals, practitioners, and advanced students who wish to participate in an intensive two-week summer immersion program that provides an overview and analysis of the major questions in indigenous affairs today, as they have emerged globally in the last decades. The program has an interdisciplinary approach and incorporates lectures and workshops on the most recent and innovative academics research and policy debates on indigenous peoples’ issues. The deadline for applications is 9 January 2015. More information is available here.
ONLINE COURSE / GENDER AND HUMAN RIGHTS / HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION ASSOCIATES – Online, 29 April – 9 June 2015 (Shared, with thanks, by Nate Weisenberg): This e-learning course provides a general introduction to the evolution of concepts of gender equality and women’s rights within the international human rights system. The deadline for applications is 1 February 2015. Further information on this course including registration is here.
PROGRAM / FOUR FREEDOMS SUMMER PROGRAM / HUMAN RIGHTS EDUCATION ASSOCIATES, 23 June – 10 July 2015 (Shared, with thanks, by Frank Elbers): The Four Freedoms Summer Program is an annual series of human rights courses for students and practitioners that encapsulates the Roosevelt’s’ fundamental values of human rights and global citizenship. The first edition will take place at the UCR campus in Middelburg, the Netherlands from 23 June-10 July 2015. The deadline for applications for all of the course in the Summer Program is 1 April 2015. You can learn more about the Four Freedoms Summer Program here.
RESOURCES: WEBSITE, GUIDES AND TOOLS
GUIDE / GUIDE FOR LITIGATORS ON USING EQUALITY STRATEGIES TO ADVANCE ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL RIGHTS / EQUAL RIGHTS TRUST: The Equal Rights Trust launched Economic and Social Rights in the Courtroom: A Litigator’s Guide to Using Equality and Non-Discrimination Strategies to Advance Economic and Social Rights which seeks to identify equality and non-discrimination strategies that NGOs, lawyers and activists may employ in seeking to advance economic and social rights (ESRs) before courts. It also includes a compendium of useful cases in which equality and non-discrimination concepts and approaches have been employed to advance ESRs. Read more here.
GUIDE / PRACTITIONERS’ GUIDE ON THE ADJUDICATION OF ESCR AT NATIONAL LEVEL / INTERNATIONAL COMMISSION OF JURISTS: The guide aims to inspire and help judges and lawyers working at national level to litigate cases involving economic, social and cultural rights. It aims at giving examples from a large variety of countries and jurisdictions of how courts and other bodies have dealt with the adjudication of these rights. Chapter two of the guide examines ESC rights under international law and the role of judicial and quasi-judicial bodies. It also addresses issues that legal practitioners are faced with at the different phases of litigation, from initiating a case and evidence building to the provision of remedies and the enforcement of judicial decisions. Read more here.
TOOL / FRAMEWORK OF ANALYSIS FOR ATROCITY CRIMES – A TOOL FOR PREVENTION / UN OFFICE ON GENOCIDE PREVENTION AND THE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROTECT (Shared, with thanks, by Claudia Diaz): The Framework of Analysis for Atrocity Crimes is an early warning tool to support the assessment of the risk of atrocity crimes (genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes) in all parts of the world and in identifying those countries most at risk. It was developed after broad consultation and extensive research into the processes that lead to those crimes including on massive and serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law of ethnic and racial origin that, if not prevented or halted, might lead to genocide. To be effective, assessments require the systematic collection of accurate and reliable information based on the risk factors and indicators that the Framework identifies. Read more here.
GUIDEBOOK / PROMOCAO DOS DIREITOS HUMANOS DE PESSOAS LGBT NO MUNDO DO TRABALHO [PROMOTING HUMAN RIGHTS OF LGBT PEOPLE IN THE WORLD OF WORK] / ILO, UNAIDS AND UNDP BRAZIL (Shared, with thanks, by Anna Boelens): The guidebook centers around four stories of the discrimination and stigma LGBT individuals have faced in the workplace, and is focused on creating inclusive corporate policies and fighting discrimination. Read more here.
REPORTS, ARTICLES AND BOOKS
NEWSLETTER – DECEMBER 2014 / ECONOMIC, SOCIAL AND CULTURAL RIGHTS BULLETIN / OHCHR (Shared, with thanks, by Bahram Ghazi): The ESCR Bulletin includes information on OHCHR’s activities in the field and headquarters, examples of case laws and policies at international and national level and useful tools, publications and multimedia material on the promotion and protection of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Highlights include a snapshot of OHCHR’s work on the human rights concerns arising from the national response to Ebola in Liberia and a workshop on land and women human rights defenders in Cambodia. Read more here.
ARTICLE – 28 DECEMBER 2014 / HAVE HUMAN RIGHTS TREATIES FAILED? / THE NEW YORK TIMES: This Op Ed article from the New York Times poses the question of whether international human rights treaties work to protect vulnerable populations, or should they be abandoned in favor of other measures? Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch and Eric Posner, a professor at the University of Chicago Law School both offer their insights to this question. Read more here.
ARTICLE – 7 NOVEMBER 2014 / THE TWO WORDS THAT SCARE THE WORLD BANK / The Washington Post: Philip Alston is the U.N. Human Rights Council’s special rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights. Does it matter that the lead source of funding for, and thinking about, world development won’t go near human rights with a 10-foot pole? World Bank President Jim Yong Kim spoke eloquently last month about the bank’s new commitment to end extreme poverty by 2030 and improve the plight of the poorest 40 percent in developing countries. In a speech at Howard University, he called for gender equity and access for the poor to food, shelter, clean water, sanitation, health care, education and jobs. But because of the bank’s long-standing aversion to discussing human rights, he never once used that forbidden phrase. Read more here.
ARTICLE – 31 OCTOBER 2014 / ANOTHER WOMEN’S TREATY? IMPLEMENT EXISTING ONE, SAY NGOs / INTER PRESS SERVICE: Can violence against women be prevented or eliminated with a new international treaty signed and ratified by the 193 member states of the United Nations? Rashida Manjoo of South Africa, the U.N. Special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women, told the General Assembly last week the absence of a legally binding agreement represents one of the obstacles to the promotion and protection of women’s rights and gender equality. Read more here.
NEWSLETTER – OCTOBER – DECEMBER 2014 / HUMAN RIGHTS TREATY DIVISION NEWSLETTER NO. 25 / OHCHR (Shared, with thanks, by Ibrahim Salama): The Human Rights Treaties Division Newsletter is a quarterly publication on the latest developments and activities of the United Nations human rights treaty body system. This issue features an interview with the outgoing Member and former Chair of the Human Rights Committee, Christine Chanet, a piece on civil society coordination for effective engagement with the Committee against Torture, highlights of recent Treaty Body Jurisprudence from May-August 2014, and a piece on the Inquiry on Lebanon by the Committee against Torture. It also contains recent developments which include a number of General Comments. Read more here.
ARTICLE – 29 OCTOBER 2014 / UNITED NATIONS: NEED FOR RIGHTS-BASED APPROACH TO FOOD SECURITY / SOCIAL WATCH (Shared, with thanks, by Sarah Rattray): It is imperative that a Human Rights-based approach to food security is adopted in order to eliminate hunger and provide access to healthy, nutritious and affordable food for all, the new UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Ms Hilal Elver, has said. In her first report to the UN General Assembly (A/69/275), which is holding its sixty-ninth session in New York, the rights expert said that in order to advance the implementation of the right to adequate food, renewed political commitment is essential and stakeholders must look to those countries that have made significant progress in adopting policies and legislation in this regard. Read more here. The interim report (A/69/275) of the Special Rapporteur on the right to food can be read here.
HuriTALK NETWORK HAPPENINGS
QUERY / ROLE OF PARLIAMENTS IN SUPPORTING FOLLOW UP TO THE RECOMMENDATIONS OF THE UNIVERSAL PERIODIC REVIEW (29 October – 14 November): Bui Phuong Tra, UNDP Vietnam and Constance Hybsier, Senior Technical Advisor for UNDP Vietnam (consultant) posted a query requesting experiences on engaging/working with parliaments in supporting the implementation of the recommendations of the Universal Periodic Review. This query was cross-posted, with thanks, on the Coordination Practitioners’ network (CPN) and the Asia-Pacific Rights and Justice network (AP-A2J net). The Consolidated Reply is being finalized and will be shared with HuriTALK shortly.
QUERY: PRACTICAL EXPERIENCES OF IMPLMENTING THE THRIGH TO FOOD GUIDELINES (4 – 19 December): Serena Pepino, FAO posted a query to HuriTALK seeking practical experiences of implementing the Right to Food Guidelines. Contributions from this query will seek to inform and strengthen programming, especially the design of new Right to Food programmes and activities. Contributions are still welcome and can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.