How the Global South shaped the international human rights system

by Steven L. B. Jensen, Researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights and the URG team Blog, Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

2016 is a landmark year for the UN human rights system. Looking back, the UN is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the two International Human Rights Covenants, and the 10th anniversary of the establishment of the Human Rights Council. Looking forward, the international community is beginning to wrestle with future challenges such as how to promote and protect the enjoyment …

Implementing Resolution 16/18: the role of Rabat and the importance of civil society space

by Andrew Smith, Legal Officer at ARTICLE 19 and the URG team Blog, Blog, By invitation, In Focus: Human rights and religion

The 31st session of the Human Rights Council (HRC) is a significant marker: not only will the HRC celebrate its 10th birthday, but the session will mark five years since the adoption of resolution 16/18 on “combating intolerance, negative stereotyping and stigmatisation of, and discrimination, incitement to violence, and violence against persons based on religion or belief .” In the current geopolitical context, the consensus that underpins resolution 16/18 is increasingly precarious, despite being more important than ever. In March, the HRC will consider …

The UN Human Rights Council in 2015: from efficiency to effectiveness, from reaction to prevention?

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Blog, Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

The ninth year of the Human Rights Council’s existence will be remembered for many things, some positive (e.g. its work to support human rights in Sri Lanka; the creation of a new Special Procedures mandate on the right to privacy), others negative (e.g. its response to the situations in Iraq, Sudan and Yemen; its consideration of a Joint Inspection Unit …

URG Tools: A contribution to improved transparency, inclusiveness and impact at the UN Human Rights Council

by the URG team Blog, Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

In order to contribute to more informed and efficient policymaking at the Human Rights Council, and thereby to contribute to more effective UN interventions and greater on-the-ground impact, the URG is pleased to present a series of new online tools. It is our hope that these tools will help diplomats, civil society representatives, UN staff and independent experts to more …

Economic, social and cultural rights: exploding myths and building consensus

by Lucy McKernan, Geneva Representative of the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the URG team Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

Beyond matters touching upon religion or belief, or on so-called ‘traditional values,’ it is difficult to think of an issue that divides members of the Human Rights Council (the Council) as much as the perceived disconnect between the importance placed on civil and political rights on the one hand, and economic, social and cultural rights (ESCRs) on the other. Twenty …

Is the UN Human Rights Council delivering on its mandate to mainstream human rights?

by Paul Hunt, University of Essex (UK); University of Waikato (New Zealand) and the URG team Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

When UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan spoke for the last time to the Commission on Human Rights he emphasised that “the era of declaration is now giving way, as it should, to an era of implementation.” [1] In the past, human rights implementation was often narrowly understood to mean passing a law and securing a favourable judicial decision. Of course, laws and …

Connecting the pillars: Human Rights and the post-2015 agenda

by Naiara Costa and the URG team Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

If you follow the work of the United Nations (UN) you may have already discovered that 2015 seems to be the year for the ‘development’ pillar of the organisation. Three main agreements are expected to be adopted until the end of the year and the complexity of the negotiations are increased by the interconnectedness amongst them. The first agreement is …

Islam, human rights and universality

by Prof. Dr. Mouez Khalfaoui and the URG team Blog, Blog, By invitation, In Focus: Human rights and religion

Ever since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights came into effect in 1948, the relationship between human rights and Islam has constituted a topic of heated debate. As of today, politicians, NGO workers, academics and journalists continue to discuss the compatibility of human rights and Islamic legal systems, traditions, and cultures. Geographically speaking, these debates encompass both Muslim countries as …

A Geneva Spring? Why civil society needs North-South solidarity

by Louise Arbour and the URG team Blog, Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

In the last decade, the international human rights framework has become addicted to norm-setting, devoting far too much effort to refining norms, tools and protocols, and not enough to their actual implementation. There have certainly been some important new normative initiatives, such as the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. But now the challenge is that the international …

The Human Rights Council at 10: too much talk, too little action?

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group and Subhas Gujadhur Blog, Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

In 2016 the UN Human Rights Council will celebrate its tenth birthday. Although the anniversary—unlike the Council’s five-year mark—will not be accompanied by any formal review of its work and functioning, it represents an important opportunity to take stock of the UN body’s achievements and failures. And what is immediately clear is that although the Council is good at debating …