Guterres urges governments to put human rights upfront in their response to COVID-19

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

At the end of April UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres launched an important new report calling for human rights to be placed upfront in guiding the international community’s response to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. The report, entitled ‘We are all in this together: human rights and COVID-19 response and recovery,’ pushes the key message that human rights are critical, not just …

Human rights and democracy: a relationship in trouble?

by Dr. Andrew Fagan, Director, University of Essex, Human Rights Centre Blog, Blog, By invitation

Last Wednesday’s RightOn webinar consisted of an expert analysis of democracy and the rule of law amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. Towards the very end of a highly engaging discussion, the audience were invited to participate in a poll. Introduced as a ‘devil’s advocate’ question, they were asked: are authoritarian or democratic regimes best placed to respond to the pandemic? Given that …

UN Secretary-General report puts human rights at centre of COVID-19 response

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

Today the UN Secretary-General (SG) Antonio Guterres launched a report on how human rights can and should guide coronavirus response and recovery. This report is intended to be read in conjunction with the SG’s Call to Action on Human Rights (launched this February) and the SG’s other reports and statements related to the COVID-19 pandemic, including his report ‘ Shared responsibility, global solidarity: responding to the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19 ’, his appeal for governments to …

What are friends for?: ‘Groups of Friends’ and the UN system

by David Joseph Deutch, Universal Rights Group NYC Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, New York City, Universal Rights Group NYC

Having arisen out of the post Cold War period, the concept of ‘Groups of Friends’ represented a newly found faith and belief in the power of multilateralism as a means of global problem solving. Groups of friends are coalitions of United Nations (UN) member states, who band together in order to further and actualise particular goals and outcomes related to …

Is UN Secretary-General António Guterres committed to human rights?

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

Much of the criticism of UN SG Guterres for his “silence” on human rights is misplaced—he is rather making a good faith effort, alongside High Commissioner Bachelet, to balance the public and private diplomacy aspects of his mandate. Is Secretary-General António Guterres really committed to human rights? That’s a question that has been vexing diplomats, civil society representatives and journalists …

Placing human rights at the heart of prevention: Short analysis of the report of the group of experts on ‘the contribution of the Council to prevention’

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

Ever since the establishment of the UN in 1946, the Organisation has recognised the central importance and value of prevention and declared its determination to place the approach at the centre of its work. Indeed, the very first words of the UN Charter make clear that the UN’s overriding mission is to prevent the gross and systematic human rights abuses …

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 …

What are the human rights priorities of world governments in 2020?

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

An independent analysis of the High-Level Segment of the Human Rights Council The High-Level Segment of the 43rd session of the UN Human Rights Council , held from 24 to 26 February 2020, saw the active participation of more than a 100 world leaders, including, four heads of States, around 90 ministers or vice-ministers, and a number of principals of international organisations. In the statements they delivered to …

URG’s verdict on the UN Secretary-General’s ‘Call to Action’: a missed opportunity

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

On Monday 24 February, the first day of the 43rd session of the Human Rights Council (HRC43), UN Secretary-General António Guterres launched a new ‘Call to action for human rights.’ Rumours of a ‘major announcement’ from the Secretary-General had been circulating since late last year, and were confirmed by Guterres himself in a keynote speech to the General Assembly on 22 January. In it, he identified four key contemporary challenges facing humanity (he called …

‘When the weapons fall silent’: UN Security Council discusses transitional justice

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

On 13 February the Security Council held its first ever discussion on transitional justice as a thematic issue, with States from every region offering first-hand accounts and calling for the UN to play a supportive role. Belgium, Security Council President for the month of February, initiated and presided over the open debate on ‘ transitional justice in conflict and post-conflict situations ,’ under the Peacebuilding and Sustaining …