May 02 2017
Upcoming event

Pre-Glion IV Policy Dialogue with the Permanent Mission of Mexico on What are the precise means (i.e. common approach, strategy, mechanisms, tools) through which the Council might effectively fulfil its prevention mandate?

The Human Rights Council’s mandate to respond to human rights violations, including gross and systematic violations – as set down in operative paragraph 3 of GA resolution 60/251 – is well known. Less well known, but equally important, is the Council’s mandate to work to prevent such violations from happening in the first place. According to (the often forgotten or ignored) paragraph 5f of GA resolution 60/251, the Council shall ‘contribute, through dialogue and cooperation, towards the prevention of human rights violations and respond promptly to human rights emergencies.’

However, despite this clear and explicit mandate and eleven years after the Council’s establishment, member States are yet to put in place an explicit and coherent policy framework (e.g. a strategy, relevant processes, tailored mechanisms) to fulfil this prevention mandate. Indeed, a review of the Council’s responses to situations brought to its attention since 2006, shows that the body’s approach has nearly always been premised on reacting to, monitoring and reporting on violations or, in some cases, offering capacity-building support to the State concerned, rather than seeking to proactively prevent.

The fourth Glion Dialogue (Glion IV) will aim to begin a concerted and inclusive effort to address this important element of the Council’s mandate and contribute to an improvement on its delivery. In particular, Glion IV will seek to move the international community towards a common understanding of the concept and parameters of ‘prevention,’ and a common vision as to how the Council, in coordination with other relevant parts of the UN system, might turn that concept into a workable, practical policy framework.

This third policy dialogue ahead of Glion IV, hosted by the Permanent Mission of Mexico, will seek to consider and identify the concrete steps (i.e. common approach, strategy, mechanisms, tools) through which the Council might effectively fulfil its prevention mandate. The dialogue will cover all the ‘building blocks’ of prevention, including the availability and quality of human rights ‘early warning’ information (the ‘smoke’), the early consideration of that information (the ‘smoke alarm’), ‘early action’ based on objective criteria, and tailored action (via existing/new mechanisms); and for each will consider the current situation (i.e. what do we already have?) and what new approaches or tools we may need to develop. The meeting, to be held under the Chatham House rule, will also consider how the Council can ensure that these ‘prevention building blocks’ are premised on preventing violations and crises ‘through cooperation and dialogue’ with the concerned State. How does the Council determine where there is scope to pursue such an approach; and how should it determine when/where ‘cooperation and dialogue’ is not possible (or no longer possible)?

Questions and ideas generated during the dialogues will be fed into a high-level informal retreat to be organised by Norway and Switzerland, with the support of the URG, in Glion during May 2017.