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Parliamentary engagement on human rights: Identifying good practices and new opportunities for action




In the last 70 years, starting with the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the international community has made great strides in developing new, and fine-tuning existing, international human rights standards. However, this progress has yet to be matched by a similar change on the ground which is why bridging this “implementation gap” has become a priority.

Parliaments, in particular their human rights committees, have a critical role to play in the promotion and protection of human rights by turning international human rights obligations into meaningful action at the national level. Increasingly, United Nations human rights mechanisms, most notably the United Nations Human Rights Council (HRC) and the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), have recognized the potential of parliaments to help ensure better implementation of human rights standards, and have therefore started to include the work of parliaments more systematically in their own deliberations. In turn, parliaments—in particular parliamentary human rights committees—have intensified their efforts to acquire a better understanding of the functioning of UN human rights mechanisms and to contribute directly to their work.

The seminar for members of parliamentary human rights committees aims to take stock of where these efforts have brought us to today and to identify good practices and new courses of action. The event will showcase and build on interesting examples of parliamentary engagement on human rights and parliamentary involvement in the work of UN human rights mechanisms. The seminar aims to identify additional ways to strengthen the contribution of parliament to the promotion and protection of human rights and to enhance synergies between parliaments and UN human rights mechanisms.

The meeting will also examine inspiring examples of cooperation between parliaments, national human rights institutions and civil society, and the action parliaments can take to create an environment in which national human rights stakeholders can do their work freely and effectively. The seminar will address the steps that parliaments can take to implement a holistic agenda that incorporates both the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and human rights obligations. The seminar will also provide an opportunity to discuss and review the draft international principles in support of the work of parliamentary human rights committees as well as the building blocks of a human rights self-assessment toolkit for parliaments.

Monday, 24 June 2019

09:30 Registration
- Opening Ceremony
Mr. Martin Chungong, Secretary General of the Inter-Parliamentary Union; Ms. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (video message); President of the UN Human Rights Council, Ambassador Coly Seck (Senegal)
- Session I: How do parliaments fit into the work of the UN Human Rights Council and UN treaty bodies and what contribution can they make?
Mr. Emilio Rafael Izquierdo Miño, Ambassador, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the Office of the United Nations and other International Organizations in Geneva; Ms. Nicole Ameline, CEDAW Vice-President, Chair of the CEDAW-IPU Working Group and former member of the National Assembly of France
- Lunch
- Session II: National case studies on parliamentary involvement in the Universal Periodic Review and in the work of the UN treaty bodies
Ms. Kim Pate, member of the Standing Committee on Human Rights, member of the Senate of Canada; Ms. Nam In-Soon, member of the Committee on Health and Welfare, member of the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea; Mr. Jurmi Wangchuk, Chairperson of the Human Rights and Foreign Relations; Committee, member of the National Assembly of Bhutan;
- Wrap-up for the day
17:30 Cocktail for the opening of the exhibition on the 130th anniversary of the IPU

Tuesday, 25 June 2019

- Exchange between the organisers, the OHCHR and IPU representatives, Mr. Gianni Magazzeni, Mr. Rogier Huizenga and the parliamentarians
- Session III: The protection of human rights at the national level: Strategies for enhanced parliamentary contribution
Ms. Meg Munn, former member (2001 – 2015) of the House of Commons (UK), involved in drafting and using the IPU / UNDP Global Parliamentary Report on parliamentary oversight; Ms. Janepher Nantume Egunyu, Chairperson of the Human Rights Committee, member of the National Assembly of Uganda; Professor Akhmal Saidov, member of the Oily Majlis of Uzbekistan, Chairman of the Committee on Democratic Institutions
- Lunch
- Session IV: Developing tools to help parliaments, in particular their human rights committees, to become more effective in promoting and protecting human rights
Mr. Gianni Magazzeni, Chief, UPR Branch, Human Rights Council and Treaty Mechanisms Division, OHCHR; Mr. Rogier Huizenga, Manager of the IPU Human Rights Programme
16:30 Attendance of the session of the UN Human Rights Council

Wednesday, 26 June 2019

- Session V: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and human rights: Going beyond the rhetoric of recognizing their strong convergence
Mr. Rio Hada, Leader of the Economic, Social and Cultural Rights Team, Thematic Engagement, Special Procedures and Right to Development Division, OHCHR; Mr. Abdoul Kassoum Touré, member of the Sustainable Development Goals Committee, member of the National Assembly of Mali; Ms. Emily Christie, Senior Advisor on Human Rights and Law, UNAIDS; Mr. Maxime Kone, Chair of the General and Institutional Affairs, and Human Rights Committee, member of the National Assembly of Burkina Faso
- Lunch
- Session VI: Creating a conducive space for freedom of expression, dialogue and respect
Ms. Aleksandra Jerkov, Chairperson of the IPU Committee on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians, member of the National Assembly of Serbia; Mr. James Lawless, Spokesperson for Science, Technology, Research & Development, member of the Dáil Éireann (Parliament) of Ireland; Mr. Momodou Jallow, member of the Swedish delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE), member of the Swedish Parliament; Ms. Katharina Rose, Geneva Representative of the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI)
17:00 Concluding session