Posts Tagged ‘Andrew Clapham’

Global Alliance for Torture-Free Trade: another step towards a binding instrument

June 17, 2019

The Global Alliance for Torture-Free Trade was launched in September 2017 under the leadership of Argentina, the European Union, and Mongolia. Today, the Global Alliance has over 60-member states that have proclaimed their determination to end international trade in instruments of torture and capital punishment. The Alliance is now introducing a draft resolution before the United Nations General Assembly with a view to adopt a legally binding instrument. A public panel event was held on 14 June 2019 in the Maison de la Paix in Geneva with experts from academia, policy practitioners, representatives from member states, civil society, and the interested public, to take stock of the developments leading to the creation of the Alliance and the prospects and challenges of adopting and implementing a global ban on tools of torture.

Panel discussion

  • Cecilia Malmström, European Union Commissioner for Trade
  • Barbara Bernath, Secretary General, Association for the Prevention of Torture
  • Andrew Clapham, Professor of International Law, the Graduate Institute, Geneva
  • Michael Crowley, Research Associate, Omega Research Foundation, and Project Coordinator of the Bradford Non-Lethal Weapons Research Project, University of Bradford
  • Gerald Staberock, Secretary General, World Organisation Against Torture

Moderators

  • Nico Krisch, Co-Director, Global Governance Centre, and Professor of International Law, the Graduate Institute, Geneva
  • Ezgi Yildiz, Postdoctoral Researcher, Global Governance Centre, the Graduate Institute, Geneva

This conference was organised with the support of the Global Governance Centre and is part of the EU Lecture Series “Europe Tomorrow”.

https://graduateinstitute.ch/communications/events/norm-making-banning-global-trade-tools-torture

Graduate Institute in Geneva celebrated human rights defenders with meeting and march

June 24, 2016

To mark the tenth anniversary of the Human Rights Council, the Graduate Institute, together with the European Union Delegation to the UN and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, held an event on 15 June to honour Human Rights Defenders across the world. [see; https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/06/13/15-june-2016-human-rights-defender-berta-caceres-academy-geneva/]

The debate, moderated by Professor Andrew Clapham, featured Human Rights Defenders Taslima Nasrin and Aida Khemiri, as well as Stavros Lambrinidis, EU Special Representative for Human Rights.

“Too many people are dying for protecting human rights,” Mr Lambrinidis said, while promising that “the EU is committed to defending the defenders.”

“There is a price on my head,” revealed Taslima Nasrin, a Bangladeshi author and blogger who has been targeted by radical Muslim groups who have condemned her writing as blasphemous. “It’s been 22 years since I have been allowed to return to my country, not even in times of sickness and death of my closest family.”

Aida Khemiri, an LGBTI activist from Tunisia drew attention to the psychological challenge of having to lie to her friends and family for their protection. “As a Human Rights Defender, I have to live a double life. I cannot tell my family all I am doing, I have to protect them.

Following the debate, participants and panelists marched past the UN Palais des Nations to express their support to Human Rights Defenders who were not able to walk freely. The event concluded at the Ariana Museum, with a spectacular show of the Violonissima Duo, performing from a hot air balloon. A playlist with photos from the event can be found through the link below.

Source: Standing up for human rights defenders

15 June 2016: a good day to reflect on what it takes to be a human rights defender

June 13, 2016

Wednesday 15 June marks the global day of action calling for justice for Berta Cáceres, an indigenous Lenca woman and environmental human rights defender in Honduras who was assassinated earlier this year [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/exceptional-response-from-ngo-world-on-killing-of-berta-caceres/ ]. Her organization COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) called for this global day of action where people all over the world will be holding demonstrations and protests at Honduran consulates and embassies.

Her case should inspire the Panel discussion held the same day, 18h00 – 18h45, under the title “What does it take to be a human rights defender ?, organised by the European Union Delegation to the UN and the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights in the Maison de la Paix, Geneva. Read the rest of this entry »

Andrew Clapham: master and futurologist of human rights

December 4, 2015

At the occasion of the publication of the second (revised and updated) edition of Human Rights: A Very Short Introduction by Andrew Clapham, Professor of Public International Law (Oxford University Press), the Graduate Institute interviewed him, on 2 December,  about the climate and long-term outlook for human rights. Andrew Clapham will be teaching a Spring 2016 course on The International Framework for the Protection of Human Rights as part of the Graduate Institute’s Master and PhD programmes in International Law. The book has an accompanying website which links to the main texts discussed.

How should we understand the concept of “human rights”?

Andrew Clapham: I have heard serious people in Geneva refer to human rights as ‘aspirations’ and I have heard it said that human rights are a ‘soft subject’. Both these misconceptions should be knocked on their heads. Human rights belong to all individuals and not to some future utopia. If those rights are violated, it represents a violation of the law, not the disruption of a dream. Human rights treaties and customary law are as ‘hard’ as trade or investment law. There are courts and prosecutors. Those convicted of genocide or torture go to prison. States found in violation of human right pay out millions in compensation. Of course there are violations of the law but that does not make the rights themselves imaginary.

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Where are the main failures in the protection of human rights in 2015, and what can be done about them?

Clearly there are egregious violations of human rights today. The right to life is being viciously violated in Syria; torture remains widespread in multiple countries; discrimination is everywhere; rights to food, education, health care and adequate housing are being denied around the world; but the human rights framework is used to frame the complaints about such issues and to design policies which prevent future violations. The failure to end the suffering in Syria sits with leaders who have the capacity to change things. The enforcement of human rights can play a role in prosecuting those who have committed crimes under human rights law and ensuring that everyone has the right to seek asylum.  The human rights framework can also be used to try to build a more stable and respectful society after the conflict

When is it justifiable for states to curtail or limit human rights?

Some rights, such as the right not to be tortured or the right not to be held in slavery can never be curtailed or limited; other rights related, say, to freedom of expression may have to be limited to protect the rights of others. Inciting racial violence is not protected by an absolute right to freedom of expression. Today, it is obvious that the right to privacy in one’s email correspondence is not absolute; it may have to be limited to protect others from threats to their lives through terrorist attacks. The discussion is over what procedures are necessary to limit such a right; should it be authorized by a judge, by the police, by a government minister?

Will we have a very different conception of human rights in 2065?

I doubt that any of the rights now included in the international texts will disappear, but their scope may be reduced or expanded. For example, there may be different expectations of privacy in 2065 – the right to be forgotten on the internet is only just emerging. In recent years we have seen new catalogues of rights for persons with disabilities and for indigenous peoples. I am confident that new rights for the elderly will be developed by 2065, and there will surely be developments along the lines of the right to a healthy environment. I suppose that eventually, some of the rights reasoning will be applied to sentient animals and the concept of animal rights will be more commonplace and less ‘aspirational’, but that is perhaps still quite a long way away.

Source: What will our “human rights” be in 2065?

The outcome of the treaty body strengthening process: workshop on 9 May 2014 in Geneva

May 6, 2014

While not directly about Human Rights Defenders, this workshop organised by the Permanent Mission of Switzerland to the UN and others (see below) is of great importance to HRDs as they are the ones who provide most of the information to the Treaty Bodies, and are often the victims of the violations reported, including reprisals against them for having cooperated. Thus, this meeting on “The outcome of the treaty body strengthening process: Lessons learnt, implications and implementation” should be of interest to all. It takes place on 9 May 2014, 9.30am to 1pm in Room XXII, Palais des Nations, Geneva. Read the rest of this entry »

Conclusions of Side Event on Reprisals against Human Rights Defenders

October 14, 2013

To launch its new In-Brief on reprisals against human rights defenders, the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights organized a side event at the 24th Session of the Human Rights Council. The round table discussion was presided by Prof. Andrew Clapham  The main Conclusions are: Read the rest of this entry »

The UN Human Rights Council compares well to its predecessor the Commission, say Geneva academic

March 14, 2013

In a lengthy interview with ‘Geneva International Cooperation’ published on 13 March 2013, Andrew Clapham, the widely respected Director of the Geneva Academy of International Law and Human Rights, argues that the Human Rights Council of the UN, which replaced the Commission on Human Rights (of which, in 2005, Kofi Annan said that its “declining credibility has cast a shadow on the reputation of the United Nations system as a whole”) has in the end made important improvements. The interview is certainly worth reading in its totality but for the hard-pressed here are some quotes:

Q: Do you think the Human Rights Council has been effective in restoring the damage caused by its predecessor to the reputation of the UN?  Yes. The credibility of the Human Rights Council is now much higher than that of the Commission on Human Rights in 2005. One of the major criticisms of the former Commission was the ability for states to use political pressure to focus attention on individual states. Under the four year Universal Periodic Review (UPR) cycle, it is possible to read reports about the United States, China, Russia, Haiti, Iraq and Libya, and not just the states that are out of favour at any given time. One of the crucial differences is the fact that the Human Rights Council now considers the situations in powerful states. The ability of the Human Rights Council to establish Commissions of Inquiry is another important and unexpected development. These Commissions are now highly regarded references and sources of information.

Q: Can you give some examples of concrete achievements that have resulted from the creation of the Human Rights Council? Read the rest of this entry »