Talk given at Leuven University (29 June 2017):
By way of preface, I’d like to echo Philip Alston in his LSE Human Rights Day lecture last year, that the human rights community is entering a watershed moment. We have a President of the US and the Philippines who openly support torture and killing with impunity. Civil society faces a major global crackdown. Unfettered capitalism is multiplying human rights and environmental crises. But to sound a slightly less gloomy note, this does not amount to the end times or the twilight of human rights. Continue reading The Tradecraft of Human Rights Politics
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon announced last week that the 2015 Paris climate change accords will, in all likelihood, go into effect this year. These accords commit the U.S. and dozens of other nations to try to lower greenhouse gas emissions to mitigate climate change.
But devising multilateral agreements is painstaking work. Typically, negotiators from hundreds of states deliberate for many years. Any agreement they reach often involves major compromises, which means provisions that experts consider important tend to be watered down
Nowhere is this more apparent than the case of the Paris Climate Change Accords. To break decades of multilateral gridlock on climate change, negotiators followed the mantra don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good.
But is there a cost to being flexible?
Strong words make treaties more effective. So is the Paris climate accord worded too flexibly?
Katerina Linos and Tom Pegram
Washington Post-The Monkey Cage, 29 September 2016.
For all NHRI research hounds, the Asia Pacific Forum (APF) – which serves as a coalition of NHRIs in the region and is the longest-standing regional network of national institutions in the world – has recently launched an impressively exhaustive NHRI bibliography. The bibliography will continue to be updated, providing an invaluable entry point into the world of NHRI policy and research. Many thanks to Chris Sidoti, the APF and the various NHRI practitioners and researchers who have contributed to this fantastic resource.
On 9 May I participated in a workshop organised by my colleagues Kristin Bakke, Neil Mitchell and Hannah Smidt on State Restrictions of Civil Society and the Free Flow of Information. It was an excellent discussion, bringing activists, journalists practitioners, policy-makers and academics together to share their insights. Hosted by the UCL Global Governance Institute, the event formed part of a series of thematic activities on Global Security, led by our Thematic Director, Kristin Bakke. The event concluded with a keynote with Natalia Taubina, of Public Verdict, a Russian campaigning NGO. I was invited to reflect briefly on the relevance of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) to the thematic. Continue reading State Restrictions on Civil Society and the Free Flow of Information
Mary Robinson, former UN High Commissioner for Human Rights has recently declared climate to be “the biggest human rights issue in the world”. 13 million deaths could be prevented every year by improving environmental protections. Despite growing evidence of a direct link between the impacts of climate change and human rights, engagement across these two fields has only just begun. Recognition of rights has been largely absent within the international negotiations on climate change under the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) initiated in Rio de Janeiro in 1992. Continue reading Climate change – the greatest human rights challenge of our time