Human rights and the UN Charter: NGOs made the difference

by Felice Gaer, Director, AJC’s Jacob Blaustein Institute for the Advancement of Human Rights Blog, Blog, By invitation

June 26, 2020 At the Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, there is a plaque on the wall of the Garden Room that reads: 25 April – 26 June 1945 In this room met the Consultants of forty-two national organizations assigned to the United States Delegation at the Conference on International Organizations in which the United Nations Charter was drafted. Their …

China and the UN’s human protection agenda

by Rosemary Foot, Senior Research Fellow in International Relations at the University of Oxford Blog, Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

In 1999, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan famously drew attention to what he saw as a core feature of the late twentieth century – a reinterpretation of State sovereignty. As he put it: ‘When we read the Charter today, we are more than ever conscious that its aim is to protect individual human beings, not to protect those who abuse them.’ …

Human Rights and COVID-19: ‘Build Back Better’

by Steven L. B. Jensen Senior Researcher at the Danish Institute for Human Rights Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

We are living in times that call for leadership of the responsible and visionary kind. Such leadership is visible in a number of states and the citizens living there are in a better situation because of it. We are also witnessing distinct examples of the opposite. Here, we see that populations are suffering much more than necessary as political leaders …

Protecting the rights of older persons during the COVID-19 pandemic

by Alfonso Barragues, Deputy Director, UNFPA Liaison Office in Geneva Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, By invitation

As UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has pointed out, the COVID-19 pandemic is one of the most dangerous challenges the world has faced in our lifetime. It is a human crisis with severe health and economic consequences. That is particularly the case for older persons who face a higher mortality risk, with those over 80 years old dying at five times …

The COVID-19 pandemic: Five urgent principles for leaving no one behind through technology

by Lorna McGregor and Dr. Ahmed Shaheed, UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

The UN Secretary General has characterised the pandemic as a ‘public health emergency … an economic crisis. A social crisis. And a human crisis that is fast becoming a human rights crisis’. Other UN agencies predict global mass unemployment and severe food insecurity . If urgent action is not taken, existing structural inequalities will expand and entrench and threaten the protection of human rights and the …

A world made new: Beyond COVID-19 to a low-carbon, resilient and inclusive world

by Dr. Edward Cameron Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

According to her son, Eleanor Roosevelt said the same prayer every night and closed with this wish: ‘save us from ourselves and show us a vision of a world made new.’ This prayer reminds me that in the midst of managing crisis we must also keep one eye on the better future we want to create. COVID-19 is both a …

Contact Tracing and challenges to privacy

by Dr. Jonathan Andrew, Research Fellow, Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

The RightOn webinar earlier this week brought together experts to discuss the use of technologies to facilitate contact tracing in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and asked whether such approaches represented a risk to the right to privacy. A diverse range of perspectives on human rights law – including those of civil society, computer science, academia and the telecommunications industry – informed …

Realizing the right to health must be the foundation of the COVID-19 response

by Benjamin Mason Meier, Associate Professor of Global Health Policy, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Judith Bueno de Mesquita, Co-Deputy Director, Human Rights Centre, University of Essex Blog, Blog, By invitation

The COVID-19 pandemic will inflict cataclysmic suffering throughout the world, with sweeping implications for human rights in global health.  As human rights analysis has begun to assess the wide-ranging infringements of human rights amidst this unprecedented pandemic response, it will also be necessary to consider the implications of this response for the realization of the human right to the enjoyment …

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 …

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 …