Twenty-five years later, how much do national human rights institutions matter?

by Steven L. B. Jensen, Researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights Beyond the Council, Blog, By invitation, In focus: domestic implementation of universal norms

An expanding range of literature examines the effectiveness of national human rights institutions, and 25 years after the Paris Principles, a recent study draws out some of the common findings. This year – 2018 – marks the 25th anniversary of the UN General Assembly’s adoption in December 1993 of the Paris Principles. These principles defined the mandate for National Human …

Supreme Court of Spain: UN Treaty Body individual decisions are legally binding

by Dr. Koldo Casla Beyond the Council, Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

The Spanish Supreme Court has established that the views expressed by UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies in individual complaints are binding on the State. The Court ordered Spain to pay €600,000 in compensation to Ángela González for the responsibility of its authorities in relation to the death of her daughter. Her daughter was murdered by her father in an unsupervised …

Why the US left the UN Human Rights Council – and why it matters

by Dr. Rosa Freedman Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

The US’s announcement that it is  leaving the UN Human Rights Council  should not surprise anyone, since the Trump administration has long made clear its disdain for many parts of the United Nations. But the damage that the decision is likely to cause could nonetheless topple an increasingly wobbly house of cards. When the Human Rights Council was created in 2006, the US (then under the …

Human rights treaty bodies in the field: The experience of the African regional system

by Christof Heyns, Professor of Human Rights Law, Univeristy of Pretoria and Member of the UN Human Rights Committee and Abiola Idowu-Ojo, Acting Deputy Secretary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

In a 2017 post  on this site, Christof Heyns and Willem Gravett proposed the idea of external sessions for the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies – they should meet at least once a year for part of the session outside Geneva, in order to ‘bring the system closer to the people’. This idea generated considerable interest, including in the recent report by the Geneva …

The UN Secretary-General’s human rights crisis can be solved

by Dr Bertrand G. Ramcharan Beyond the Council, Blog, By invitation

There is a crisis in the United Nations human-rights system. Secretary-General António Guterres can lead the way out of it. Indeed, the world continues to look to the UN secretary-general to stand up for the principles of the organisation. One of the highest responsibilities of the incumbent is to help steer a course toward realising UN goals in the areas …

It is time for the United Nations to recognise the human right to a healthy environment

by Professor John H. Knox, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Earlier this month, on World Environment Day, the Executive Director of UN Environment, Erik Solheim, and I jointly stated that the historic moment has arrived for the United Nations to recognise the human right to a healthy environment at the global level. The fundamental UN human rights treaties do not include this right because the modern environmental movement began in the late 1960s, …

Why is the media unfair to the United Nations? And what the Organization is doing to make newsrooms friendlier

by Javier Delgado Rivera, Journalist Beyond the Council, Blog, By invitation

Constructive media coverage is essential for the UN. It helps the organisation both to raise awareness of neglected crises around the world and to increase visibility for its role in addressing them. In fact, a strong online, press, and TV presence can help mobilise the human, political, and economic resources needed to solve or prevent these situations. The media also …

Anti-corruption and human rights

by H.E. Ambassador Julian Braithwaite, Permanent Representative of the United Kingdom Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On 1 May this year, MPs from across the major UK political parties, agreed in the UK Parliament to support a ‘Magnitsky’ amendment to the Sanctions and Anti-Money Laundering Bill. The amendment was adopted without a vote and was described by the Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, as “an important moment” that would “allow the UK to act against those responsible …

It’s time we all recognise the human right to a healthy environment

by Professor John H. Knox, UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Note: This article is based on a Joint Statement by UN Environment and the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment ahead of World Environment Day.   Speaking ahead of World Environment Day on 5 June, the head of UN Environment, Mr Erik Solheim, and the Special Rapporteur on human rights and the environment, Mr John Knox, issued a …

The place of human rights in a reformed United Nations

by H.E. Mr Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for Human Rights Blog, By invitation

Note: This article is based on a keynote address delivered by H.E. Mr. Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, High Commissioner for Human Rights, on Wednesday 30th June 2018, at the opening plenary of the fifth Glion Human Rights Dialogue, hosted by the Government of Switzerland and supported by the Universal Rights Group.  First, let me make a few points about the Secretary General’s ongoing plans for reforming …