Is the world really ‘backsliding’ on human rights, and is it getting worse with the Covid-19 pandemic?

by the URG team Blog, Blog, In focus: domestic implementation of universal norms

Even before the outbreak of the current COVID-19 pandemic, commentary on the worldwide human rights situation was characterised, to a large degree, by negative assertions of an unfolding human rights crisis. Powered by influential voices at the UN, as well as by civil society and the media, the general public narrative was often one of backsliding in the world’s major …

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 …

The Universal Periodic Review

Clustering and the integrated implementation of recommendations: The key to unlocking the complementary power of the UN’s compliance mechanisms

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group and Mariana Montoya International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes, Policy reports

Clustering and the integrated implementation of recommendations: The key to unlocking the complementary power of the UN’s compliance mechanisms

Over the past seventy years, United Nations (UN) member States have elaborated and adopted eight ‘core’ international human rights treaties. Together with the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, these conventions provide the normative and legal backbone of the UN human rights system. Since their adoption, the number of States choosing to ratify and thus become Party to those treaties has …

Mid-way to universality! CTI2024 supporting all States to ratify and implement the UN Convention against Torture

by Dr. Alice Edwards, Head of the CTI Secretariat Beyond the Council, Blog, Blog, By invitation

Guiding States on how to prevent and respond to torturous forms of abuse of power or position is what the UN Convention against Torture is all about. Yet, despite torture being long condemned and the prohibition recognised as a jus cogens international norm, there continue to be grave abuses perpetrated in many countries and in all regions. In others, lack …

How UN Treaty Bodies can better address corruption and its negative impact on human rights

by Patrick Mutzenberg, Director of the Centre for Civil and Political Rights. Blog, By invitation, Contemporary and emerging human rights issues

It is now widely recognised that corruption negatively affects the enjoyment of civil and political rights, as well as economic, social and cultural rights. Corruption not only has a negative impact on the ability of States to implement their treaty-based human rights obligations, but it also directly affects the population of such countries. This concern was raised several times by …

Supreme Court of Spain: UN Treaty Body individual decisions are legally binding

by Dr. Koldo Casla Beyond the Council, Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

The Spanish Supreme Court has established that the views expressed by UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies in individual complaints are binding on the State. The Court ordered Spain to pay €600,000 in compensation to Ángela González for the responsibility of its authorities in relation to the death of her daughter. Her daughter was murdered by her father in an unsupervised …

Human rights treaty bodies in the field: The experience of the African regional system

by Christof Heyns, Professor of Human Rights Law, Univeristy of Pretoria and Member of the UN Human Rights Committee and Abiola Idowu-Ojo, Acting Deputy Secretary of the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

In a 2017 post  on this site, Christof Heyns and Willem Gravett proposed the idea of external sessions for the UN Human Rights Treaty Bodies – they should meet at least once a year for part of the session outside Geneva, in order to ‘bring the system closer to the people’. This idea generated considerable interest, including in the recent report by the Geneva …

What are the human rights priorities of world governments in 2018?

by the URG team Blog

An independent analysis of the High Level Segment of the Human Rights Council  At the opening of the 37th session of the Human Rights Council, nearly one hundred world leaders (e.g. presidents, prime ministers, ministers) delivered high level speeches commenting on the state of global human rights in 2018, and presenting their country’s priorities for the year ahead. The Universal Rights …

Reform of the UN human rights petitions system

by Marc Limon, Executive Director of the Universal Rights Group Policy reports

Reform of the UN human rights petitions 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 …

Bringing the UN Treaty Body system closer to the people

by Christof Heyns, Professor of Human Rights Law, Univeristy of Pretoria and Member of the UN Human Rights Committee, Willem Gravett, Senior Lecturer, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria and Geneva Blog, By invitation, International human rights institutions, mechanisms and processes

The ongoing process of strengthening the UN Treaty Body system provides a welcome opportunity to reflect on some of our hidden assumptions. The Treaty Bodies have over time gravitated towards Geneva, and it now appears to be the assumption that this is simply the way things should be done. Notwithstanding, we want to argue that reform of the human rights Treaty …