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 …

Inter-American Court clarifies human rights obligations of States in the context of environmental protection

by Liliana Ávila Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Advisory opinion also clarifies extraterritorial obligations On February 7, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights shared its response to an advisory opinion solicited by Colombia on the international obligations of States regarding activities that could negatively impact the environment. Advisory opinions are legal concepts in which the Court, as the highest human rights court in the Americas, seeks to unravel the meaning …

First private sector ‘Treaty Body’ launched by Facebook

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Yesterday, beneath the radar of most diplomats at the UN, Facebook launched what is, in effect, a global first: a private sector-led human rights ‘Treaty Body’ designed to monitor its own compliance with international human rights standards. Specifically, the tech giant’s new ‘Oversight Board’ will review Facebook’s decisions about what content to ‘take down’ (because, for example, it constitutes ‘hate …

The UN human rights treaty system: Getting closer to the ground?

by Christof Heyns, Professor of Human Rights Law, Univeristy of Pretoria and Member of the UN Human Rights Committee and Willem Gravett, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria Blog, Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

In a 2017 post on this site (and drawing on an idea advanced 20 years ago by Christof Heyns and Frans Viljoen ), we argued that the current process of reform of the human rights treaty system should include efforts to “bring the treaty system closer to the people on the ground.” More specifically, treaty bodies should not only conduct their work in Geneva, but also hold meetings away from their home base, in particular in the …

The history of the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders: its genesis, drafting and adoption

by Petter Wille, Special Adviser to the National Human Rights Institution of the Kingdom of Norway and JANIKA SPANNAGEL, RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, GLOBAL PUBLIC POLICY INSTITUTE Blog, Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

Introduction Human rights defenders have been on the agenda of the United Nations (UN) for several decades. After more than 13 years of negotiations, the UN General Assembly adopted the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders in 1998 . This was a historic achievement. It was the first UN instrument to particularly recognise the importance and legitimacy of the work of human rights defenders, as well as their …

Special Rapporteur calls on the UN to recognize the universal right to a healthy environment

by Danica Damplo, Universal Rights Group NYC Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, Universal Rights Group NYC

Last week, the UN Special Rapporteur on human rights obligations relating to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment, David R. Boyd, made a historic push at the UN General Assembly for the human right to a healthy environment to be recognised at the global level. During his landmark address at the GA’s Third Committee, Boyd argued, firstly, that official UN recognition of the human right to a healthy environment would bolster and enhance work already underway …

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 case of Argentina: the experience of the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances

by Estela B. de Carlotto and Geneva Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

16 February 2017 In 2015, on the occasion of its 35th anniversary, the Working Group on Enforced and Involuntary Disappearances traveled to our country to hold periodic meetings. It held meetings with human rights organisations and various State bodies working on the ground to prevent and guarantee justice in each case of enforced disappearances. The expert group concluded that Argentina is …

Indigenous peoples and the environment: challenges and opportunities for the UN human rights system

by Mariana Montoya and Geneva Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On 1 August 2017, the Embassy of Turkey in Colombia, the Fundación el Nogal, and the Universal Rights Group, with the support of Club El Nogal, organised an event to raise awareness of the situation of the rights of indigenous peoples (IPs) in Colombia. This event saw the participation of high-level representatives of the Colombian Government, leaders of indigenous communities, …

Bringing the UN Treaty Body system closer to the people

by Christof Heyns, Professor of Human Rights Law, Univeristy of Pretoria and Member of the UN Human Rights Committee, Willem Gravett, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria and Geneva Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

The ongoing process of strengthening the UN Treaty Body system provides a welcome opportunity to reflect on some of our hidden assumptions. The Treaty Bodies have over time gravitated towards Geneva, and it now appears to be the assumption that this is simply the way things should be done. Notwithstanding, we want to argue that reform of the human rights Treaty …