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.