The environment is the new battleground for human rights – we must protect those on the frontline

by Oliver Courtney Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

Imagine waking up one morning to be told by a man from the government that new laws mean the street your family has lived on for generations is being sold to developers. Your land is to be ‘converted’ into flats in the name of national economic development; bulldozers will soon be moving in to flatten your house and rip up …

Human rights norms: it’s the implementation, stupid

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

The development of international human rights norms has been one of the great success stories of the UN. The first major achievement was the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights by the General Assembly on 10 December 1948 – “a common standard of achievement for all peoples and all nations”. Building on this first step, the UN went …

The emerging law of environmental human rights is clearer than ever before

by Professor John Knox, Independent Expert on human rights and the environment Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

On the last day of its 25th session in March 2014, the Human Rights Council adopted by consensus a historic resolution on human rights and the environment. For the first time, the Council explicitly recognised that ‘human rights law sets out certain obligations on states which are relevant to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment.’ This …

UN General Assembly Concludes its Review of the Human Rights Treaty Bodies

by Christen Broecker Blog, Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

The United Nations General Assembly today (9th April) completed a two-year review of a key part of the UN’s human rights architecture: the human rights treaty bodies. The review occurred in the context of and built on ideas generated from a broader effort by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights to ‘strengthen’ the treaty bodies. The outcome of the …

The Emerging Struggle over the Council's Prerogatives

by Marc Limon & Toby Lamarque Blog, Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

It seemed innocuous enough. In December last year, the UN General Assembly’s Third Committee adopted a short resolution taking note, as per normal practice, of the annual report of the Human Rights Council, but deferring consideration of one particular Council resolution ‘in order to allow time for further consultations thereon’. This additional wording, which was subsequently endorsed by the General …

Post 2015 Development Agenda – Global Governance and the Right to Food

by Subhas Gujadhur Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

In 2000, the U.N. Millennium Summit declared that halving the proportion of people who suffer from hunger between 1990 and 2015 is a key Millennium Development Goal. Also in 2000, the U.N. Commission on Human Rights appointed a Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food in order to “respond fully to the necessity for an integrated and coordinated approach in …

'Clean slate' elections threaten the future of the Human Rights Council

by Toby Lamarque Blog, Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

It is fair to say that the results of the latest Human Rights Council elections came as no surprise to most observers. This is not because the winning States had engaged in more dynamic and compelling campaigns than their opponents. Rather, in three of the five regional groups, the number of candidates exactly equalled the number of vacant seats, making …

Human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals: The global governance architecture and its impact on human rights in Africa

by Subhas Gujadhur Blog, Blog, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

In January 1941, the late President FD Roosevelt delivered a speech which led to the Atlantic Charter, a joint declaration with the late Sir Winston Churchill which contained their vision of a peaceful world order after the war. This new world order was to rest on four pillars,trade and finance, on the one hand peace and human rights on the …

Human rights financing: the UN's little pillar

by Professor Michael O’Flaherty and Marc Limon Blog, Blog, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

In 2005, the then Secretary-General of the United Nations, Kofi Annan, presented plans for United Nations reform which elevated human rights to be one of the three pillars of the UN system – alongside economic and social development, and peace and security. This represented an acknowledgement of the centrality of human rights to the work and ideals of the UN …