Feb 06 2018
Past event

Launch of the report: Reform of the UN human rights petition system

On 6th February the Permanent Mission of Denmark and the Universal Rights Group organised a panel discussion and reception to mark the launch of the report entitled ‘Reform of the UN human rights petition system. An assessment of the UN human rights communications procedures and proposals for a single integrated system‘.

The human rights communications procedures are central to the purpose, effectiveness and credibility of the United Nations – representing the only direct link between the victims of human rights violations and the international human rights protection system. However, over the past half-century, what was once a vibrant part of the UN’s human rights work has become increasingly neglected and somewhat discredited – the victim of its own complexity and distance from ‘the Peoples’ of the UN.

This report on the UN’s system of individual human rights communications is the result of a two-year project led by the Universal Rights Group. It offers a number of conclusions.

First, each of the three main communications procedures plays a distinct and crucial role in the overall UN human rights petitions system. Each has its own strengths when viewed from a victim’s perspective.

Second, the challenges faced by, and the weaknesses of, each procedure, especially when viewed from a victim’s perspective, show significant overlap.

Third, these weaknesses or challenges cannot be addressed, within existing resources, by focusing on each procedure in isolation. Rather, States and the UN Secretariat must once again (as was the case in the late 1970s) look at the procedures as three interconnected and complementary parts of a single coherent UN petitions system – with a single user interface and, perhaps, a single Secretariat.

Fourth, modern technology presents enormous opportunities to finally put in place such a ‘fully coordinated approach’ within ‘a fully automated system’ (as called for by the Chair of the Commission in 2000).

With these conclusions in mind, this policy report makes a number of recommendations. In considering such reforms, States should adopt a victim’s perspective, viewing the current system – and possible changes thereto – through the lens of those people who need to use it.

The reforms should be based on the overarching objective of establishing a single, coherent UN human rights petitions system comprising a single user interface and single UN petitions Secretariat, responsible for channelling petitions to the most appropriate communications procedure(s) and following up on each and every case. To make this possible, the UN will need to leverage the power of modern information technology.




Presentation of URG Policy Report on ‘Reform of the UN human rights petition system,’ by Mr Marc Limon, Executive Director, Universal Rights Group

Reactions and further reflections by:

H.E. Mr Carsten Staur, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Denmark

Mr Yibza Aynekullu Tesfaye, Minister-Counsellor, Permanent Mission of Ethiopia

Dr Mourad Dhina, Executive Director, Fondation Alkarama

Ms Inès Osman, Coordinator of the Legal Department & Legal Officer, Fondation Alkarama

Ms Julia Legner, Legal Officer, Fondation Alkarama


The launch of the report can be viewed on our website.

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