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Parliaments and human rights

Parliaments have a critical role in protecting people's human rights. We take action to strengthen their work protecting the rights of all citizens, as well as those of MPs themselves.

The most effective way to secure rights and end abuses is for national parliaments and other national and international stakeholders, including our own organization, to cooperate in support of human rights. This is why the IPU focuses its efforts on helping to create a conducive environment in which parliaments, governments, national human rights institutions, civil society, along with international partners, can work together effectively.  

We work in close partnership with the United Nations, in particular its Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, the UN Human Rights Council, as well as key human rights treaty monitoring bodies. Our work includes fostering strong parliamentary input and follow-up to the UN Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review, which analyses the human rights records of all UN members, and the periodic review of country situations by the Committee on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). In June 2018, a report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights on the Contribution of parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its universal periodic review, was presented to the 38th session of the Human Rights Council.

Our practical steps include encouraging parliaments to ratify and implement specific UN human rights treaties, and mobilizing MPs to address challenges such as impunity for perpetrators, trafficking in children and child labour, undue limitations to the rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and discrimination against and exclusion of vulnerable groups. We strengthen, inform and encourage MPs so they can act.  

Through our publications, such as Human Rights Handbook for Parliamentarians, MPs are kept informed of international standards and obligations. 

We supply information on how parliamentary human rights committees function, and also give these committees an international platform to share experiences and discuss common challenges. We also provide hands-on help, working alongside individual parliaments which request our input to change the way they operate.

We have also worked with a number of West African States with a view to boosting their fight against trafficking in children and child labour.

Our work on Parliaments and Human Rights is part of our overall commitment to human rights.