Human Rights Council Elections: clean slates continue to undermine the Council

by Peter Splinter, Human Rights Consultant and Former Representative of Amnesty International to the United Nations in Geneva Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

On 12 October 2018, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) will hold elections for 18 seats on the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for a three-year term starting on 1 January 2019.  All five UN regional groups have clean slates – in which the number of candidates is equal to the number of vacant seats. [1]   These clean slates turn the election into …

How UN Treaty Bodies can better address corruption and its negative impact on human rights

by Patrick Mutzenberg, Director of the Centre for Civil and Political Rights. Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

It is now widely recognised that corruption negatively affects the enjoyment of civil and political rights, as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Corruption not only has a negative impact on the ability of States to implement their treaty-based human rights obligations, but it also directly affects the population of such countries. This concern was raised several times by …

Human Rights Treaty Bodies in the field: The Inter-American Regional System and sessions away from headquarters

by Elizabeth Abi-Mershed, former Assistant Executive Secretary of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

Following the post from Christof Heyns and Abiola Idowu-Ojo of July 10, 2018 on this site, the present post reviews the inter-American experience with holding sessions away from headquarters, and considers the many advantages, as well as some challenges. Both the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (Commission or IACHR) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (Court) carry out periods …

Is Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein really the “prince of Human Rights”?

by Olivier de Frouville, Member UN Human Rights Committee Blog, By invitation

The former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Jordanian prince Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, ended his mandate on the 31st August and his successor, former Chilean President Michelle Bachelet, has just taken office. A large number of recent contributions praising Zeid’s term in office have cropped up and many paid tribute to his action at the head of the UN …

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, …