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Main title Subheading Using the international human rights system – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Main title Subheading

Main title Subheading
  • Using the international human rights system

About BIHR
  • We are a national charity aiming to bring human
    rights to life in the UK by
  • Raising awareness of human rights
  • Building capacity to use human rights based
  • Influencing policy change

Context/ aims
  • NEP and BIHR Guide for the VCS Using
    international human rights
  • Want to bring this to life and inspire you to use
  • Aim to increase awareness and understanding of
    the system and how you can engage with it to make
    a difference to your work

  • The ideas
  • What are human rights, where do they come from
    and why do they matter?
  • International law
  • What are they key parts of the international
    human rights system and how do they work?
  • The practice
  • How can you use it? Case studies and practical

Main title Subheading
  • The ideas

Which human rights are being taken away in these
Human rights are
Key ideas
Belong to everyone Cannot be given, only
claimed Cannot be taken away Are a set of
basic, universal standards
Shift from needs to rights
  • A right is something to which one is entitled
    solely by virtue of being a person enables a
    person to live with dignity can be enforced
    and entails government obligation.
  • A need is an aspiration that can be quite
    legitimate but not necessarily associated with an
    obligation by government to cater to it. The
    satisfaction of a need cannot be enforced. Human
    rights make the difference between being and just
    merely existing
  • From UNDP Poverty Practice note

Universal Declaration of Human Rights
  • All human beings are born free and equal in
    dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason
    and conscience and should act towards each other
    in a spirit of brotherhood.

Creation of a human rights system
  • Civil and political rights
  • Economic,
  • social and
  • cultural
  • rights

Disabled People
Migrant workers
No Torture
The roots Ancient philosophies, religion,
revolutions, social movements etc
Main title Subheading
  • The law

United Nations
e.g. International human rights treaties e.g
CEDAW (Convention on the Elimination of
Discrimination against Women, CRC (Convention on
the Rights of the Child)
UK Government
Human Rights Act 1998
Council of Europe
European Convention on Human Rights 1950
State obligations
  • State parties have obligations to
  • Respect human rights i.e. refrain from
    interfering with the enjoyment of rights
  • Protect human rights i.e. prevent rights abuses
    by third parties
  • Fulfil human rights i.e. pro-actively engage in
    activities that strengthen access to and
    realisation of rights.

Different international human rights mechanisms
  • International Treaties (Conventions)
  • Monitoring Committees
  • Other UN instruments (p40 guide)
  • Other procedures
  • Special Rapporteurs
  • Universal Periodic Review
  • UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (Navi

List of International Human Rights treaties
  1. International Covenant on Civil and Political
    Rights (ICCPR), 1966
  2. International Covenant on Economic, Social and
    Cultural Rights (ICESCR), 1966
  3. Convention on the Elimination of Racial
    Discrimination (CERD), 1965
  4. Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination
    Against Women (CEDAW), 1979
  5. Convention Against Torture (CAT), 1984
  6. Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC), 1989
  7. Convention on Migrant Workers (CMW), 1990 (The UK
    has not signed up to this Convention)
  8. International Convention on the Rights of Persons
    with Disabilities (ICRPD), 2006
  9. International Convention for the Protection of
    All Persons from Enforced Disappearance (ICPED),
    2006 (The UK has not signed up to this Convention)

UK and International treaties
  • Some facts!
  • UK signed and ratified all except for Migrant
    Workers and Enforced Disappearances
  • UK first governments to sign one on Persons with
    Disabilities but only ratified on 8th June 09
  • Only 2 countries havent ratified the Childrens
    Treaty- do you know which ones?

Sign or Ratify?
  • Sign a treaty - not legally binding, but
  • expressing agreement.
  • Ratify a treaty- legally binding. Must submit
    report to committees to prove you are following
    the duties in the treaty.

Enforcing and monitoring rights
  1. Govt Reports by states to UN treaty monitoring
    committees (international)
  2. Committee sessions
  3. Concluding observations
  4. Complaints by individuals to UN committees
    (limited e.g CEDAW)

Group Activity
  • Looking at the specific rights in some of the
    treaties and linking them to your work/issues.

Main title Subheading
  • Engaging with the human rights system

How can you engage with international human
  • Raise awareness tell people about them!
  • Influence the UN Committees
  • Hold the government and public bodies to account
  • Campaign and lobby for stronger human rights
  • Advocate for human rights

Influencing the committees
  • Shadow reporting
  • Submitting evidence
  • Meeting the committees
  • Attending committee sessions as an observer
  • Assisting the government with drafting their
    official reports
  • Example French CAT report example

Extract from Franciscans shadow report
  • Franciscans International would like to draw
    the attention of the Committee against Torture to
    the situation of elderly persons in institutions
    and, in particular, to the significant level of
    mistreatment that occurs in therein.
  • Based on a sample of 496 calls received in 2007
    concerning cases of the mistreatment of elderly
    persons in institutions, ALMA reveals that 44 of
    cases of repeated mistreatment concerned private
    establishments, whereas at least 36 of the cases
    were registered in public institutions.

The reporting cycle
Holding the state to account
  • Rich source of material for lobbying and
    campaigning work, e.g.
  • Concluding observations
  • General comments
  • Powerful language
  • Example Participation and Practice of Rights

Individual action-planning
  • Pick a treaty which is relevant to your work.
  • What could you do to engage in the reporting
  • Think about
  • date of next government report,
  • what information you could send to the committee,
    what evidence you have,
  • who you could partner with

Some tips- table from p19
  • Have a look at the website of the relevant
    committee (via
  • Check the date that the UK is next due to report
    on the relevant treaty (see chapter 4).
  • Find out if anyone else is planning to produce a
    report or is interested in getting involved.
  • Have a look at the UKs previous reports and the
    concluding observations.
  • Can you get hold of a copy of the Governments
    official report?
  • Identify the issues that you want to raise, and
    recommendations on how the situation can be
  • Make sure the information you include is clear,
    relevant and concise.
  • Remember to find out how and when to submit your

  • What would help you or your organisation to use
    human rights?
  • Would a network of like-minded people help
    support you / your organisation to use human
  • What barriers are there to using human rights?