Twitter’s descent reminds us of the dangers of free speech absolutism

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog

Free speech absolutists have not been having it their own way recently. A decade ago normative interpretations of freedom of expression under international human rights law and under relevant resolutions of the Human Rights Council were fairly finely balanced between the ‘anything goes’ ideology espoused by the United States (US) as well as by American human rights lawyers and experts …

COP27 and the centrality of human rights in climate action

by Amalia Ordóñez Vahí, Research Fellow, URG Blog, Blog

‘We’re on a highway to climate hell with our foot on the accelerator’ warned UN Secretary General, António Guterres, at the opening of COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, on 7 November 2022. Guterres presented a grim dichotomy: ‘humanity has a choice: cooperate or perish. It is either a Climate Solidarity Pact – or a Collective Suicide Pact.’ COP27 was the first …

Report of the 35th Special Session of the Human Rights Council on the deteriorating human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran

by Geneva Blog, Blog, URG Human Rights Council Reports

On Thursday 24 November 2022, the Human Rights Council convened a special session to address ‘the deteriorating human rights situation in the Islamic Republic of Iran, especially with respect to women and children’. The Special Session was requested via an official letter dated 11 November signed by H.E. Katharina Stasch, Permanent Representative of the Federal Republic of Germany to the United Nations …

What now? Options for next steps following UN recognition of the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group, Lola Sanchez Arcos, Researcher, URG and Amalia Ordóñez Vahí, Research Fellow, URG Blog, Blog

Following the Human Rights Council and General Assembly resolutions recognising the right to a clean, healthy, and sustainable environment (R2E), adopted in 2021 and 2022 respectively ( HRC/RES/48/13 and A/RES/76/300 ), it is time to consider appropriate next steps in advancing the legal recognition, implementation, and monitoring of this right. With the above in mind, on 18 October the Permanent Mission of …

Have the 2022 elections produced a stronger or a weaker Human Rights Council?

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group and Joseph Burke Blog, Blog

On 11 October 2022, the UN General Assembly (GA) in New York convened to elect new members of the Human Rights Council for the term 2023-2025. As soon as the votes were cast and members elected, diplomats and civil society representatives, as always, began to ask themselves whether the newly composed Council (which will sit from 1 January next year) …

Report on the 51st session of the Human Rights Council

by the URG team Blog, Blog, URG Human Rights Council Reports

Quick summary The 51st regular session of the Human Rights Council (HRC51) was held from Monday 12 September to Friday 7 October 2022. With Ms. Michelle Bachelet’s mandate as the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights having come to an end on 31 August 2022, and the incoming UN High Commissioner, Mr. Volker Türk, not taking up his official functions …

Between Principles and Pragmatism: How African states vote at the UN Human Rights Council

by Hassan Shire, Executive Director of DefendDefenders (the East and Horn of Africa Human Rights Defenders Project) and the Chairperson of AfricanDefenders (the Pan-African Human Rights Defenders Network), based in Kampala, Uganda and Nicolas Agostini, Representative to the United Nations for DefendDefenders Blog, Blog, By invitation

What would a comprehensive analysis of the voting record of African states at the UN Human Rights Council look like? The question isn’t easy, but we hope that the answer DefendDefenders and AfricanDefenders formulated will quench the thirst of those—diplomats, human rights advocates, or mere Council observers—who pay attention to the African Group… or worry about its voting patterns. As African human …

Placing human rights at the core of climate action: towards a human rights-based approach to loss and damage

by Amalia Ordóñez Vahí, Research Fellow, URG Blog, Blog

The summer of 2022 will be remembered by many as the time when the effects of climate change became for them all too real: water scarcity, droughts and desertification, loss of habitats and displacement due to wildfires , growing health conditions and deaths as a result of record-breaking heatwaves , displacement and destruction of housing and infrastructures due to record flooding . However, while these impacts are …

Who is Volker Türk?

by Yoni Ish-Hurwitz, Executive Director, Human Rights Likeminded Office Blog, Blog, By invitation

Opinions have already begun forming about Volker Türk in the short time since the announcement of his appointment last week as the new UN High Commissioner for Human Rights. However, in the absence of a public competition, there was little opportunity to learn about Türk. He is also not well-known outside of the UN (and had few followers on twitter …

The 1968 United Nations Debate on Human Rights and Tech

by Steven L. B. Jensen, Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights Blog, Blog, By invitation

Social media, digitalisation, datafication , AI , internet access , surveillance capitalism and the vast powers of tech companies have all become issues of critical concern for the human rights community. In the debate, we often focus on the newness of the evolving challenges. However, it may be worthwhile to take a step back and note that the nexus between human rights and tech …