Posts Tagged ‘binding international law’

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

Human Rights Watch deconstructs case against UK withdrawal from European Human Rights

October 1, 2014

In the past year, some senior members of the UK government have been highly critical of the current human rights framework, claiming falsely that it mainly benefits criminals, terrorists, and undocumented migrants, and suggesting that the UK should replace the Human Rights Act with a UK Bill of Rights. They have also hinted that the UK should withdraw from the European Convention so that it can more easily deport people. “To scrap the Human Rights Act and withdraw from the European Convention would be an extreme and reckless step, weakening rights protections for everyone in the UK” said Izza Leghtas, Western Europe researcher at Human Rights Watch. “It would gravely damage a system that has helped safeguard fundamental freedoms in some 47 European countries over six decades.”

In a Q&A released on 29 September, Human Rights Watch addresses some of the recurring criticisms of the Human Rights Act and the European Convention.

The Q&A responds to the criticism that human rights make it difficult to deport foreigners who have committed serious criminal offences. In fact, the UK already has legal powers to deport foreigners convicted of a serious criminal offence, but human rights law prohibits the deportation of a person in the limited cases where they would face a real risk of death, torture, or ill-treatment in the country of destination or have no prospect of a fair trial. Courts can also block a deportation if there would be a serious adverse impact on the deportee’s family, but in reaching such decisions courts must weigh the potential harm to the individual, the individual’s family (who may be British citizens), and the impact on society if he or she were allowed to remain.

The Q&A also addresses the criticism that the Human Rights Act is undemocratic. If a domestic court finds a UK law to be inconsistent with the Human Rights Act, it cannot strike down that law. It can only note that incompatibility and it is then for parliament to decide whether and how to change the law, in comparison to many other democratic countries where courts can strike down laws. As a last resort, people who invoke those rights unsuccessfully before UK judges can still seek to take their case to the court in Strasbourg, an arrangement approved by British governments for many decades.

The European Convention and the rulings of the European Court of Human Rights are binding on governments across the 47 countries that are part of the Council of Europe. The European Court has played a key role in protecting the rights of 800 million people across the Council of Europe region. Its rulings have been instrumental ending torture in police custody, ensuring victims of abuses by state authorities have access to justice and allowing people to express themselves freely. In many countries the court offers the only meaningful chance for justice for those whose rights are abused.

Reaffirming human rights at home is essential for any UK government that seeks to promote respect for human rights around the world. If the UK is to have any credibility on human rights in its foreign policy, it should strengthen, not weaken, its own human rights protections, Human Rights Watch said.

Attacks in the UK on the European Court of Human Rights undermine those efforts and provide succor to abusive governments in the Council of Europe that would prefer to ignore the European Court. The only European country currently not a member of the Council of Europe is Belarus. The only country to have withdrawn from the ECHR was Greece in 1969, while it was under a military dictatorship.

The UK’s withdrawal from the European Convention would be welcomed by abusive governments everywhere,” Leghtas said. “But it would gravely weaken an institution that has done so much to safeguard and advance basic freedoms across Europe and it would destroy the credibility of the UK when discussing human rights internationally.”

UK: Parties Should Commit to Rights | Human Rights Watch.

Binding UN treaty needed for protection of environmental human rights defenders

June 11, 2014

Defenders of the environment often face terrible consequences for their actions, suffering rights violations and violence, according to a new report by Friends of the Earth International to be released on June 26, during the 26th Session of the U.N. Human Rights Council . “A new case of violence against environmental rights defenders and violations of their rights is reported to us on average once a week, and this is just the tip of the iceberg,” said Lucia Ortiz, of Friends of the Earth International. “Environmental defenders who uphold the right of communities to determine their own development path in opposition to corporate-driven mega projects are subject to many types of human rights abuses, often committed by corporations or on their behalf”.

Friends of the Earth International recorded more than 100 incidents of violence against environmental rights defenders and violations of their rights in 27 countries around the world in the period November 2011 – October 2013. More than half of the killings recorded were targeted assassinations of peasant leaders and deaths of peasants during violent confrontations regarding land disputes, often involving the protection of peasant territories from polluting development projects such as hydroelectric dams, monoculture plantations or the extraction of oil, gas and minerals.

The new report calls on the UN Human Rights Council to create an international treaty to address corporate human rights violations. [On may 7, 2014, a global alliance of civil society organizations known as the Treaty Alliance representing more than 500 groups called on UN Human Rights Council members to support an initiative in June that would begin a process towards creating an international legally binding treaty to address corporate human rights violations. For more information read: www.foei.org/news/groups-call-for-un-treaty-to-tackle-corporate-human-rights-violations/ –  A regulatory and enforcement framework that is legally binding for corporations has been proposed at the Council by a group of 84 nations since September 2013]

The following environmental defenders will be in Geneva on June 23-27:

1) Micaela Antonio Gonzalez from Guatemala and Victor Barro from Friends of the Earth Spain will expose the human rights violations by the Spanish company Hidralia in Guatemala.

2) Abeer Al Butmah from Friends of the Earth Palestine will expose the human rights violations by Israeli water company Mekorot in Palestine.

3) Godwin Ojo from Friends of the Earth Nigeria and Paul de Clerck from Friends of the Earth Europe will expose the human rights violations by Royal Dutch Shell in the Niger Delta.

4) Alberto Villarreal will expose the violations of the human right to health posed by the Philip Morris International challenge to the tobacco control legislation in Uruguay.

Friends of the Earth International is critical of ‘voluntary mechanisms’ such as the Global Compact and Ruggie’s UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and believes they have not reduced attacks on human rights defenders and are thus insufficient to protect human rights.

The report ‘We defend the environment, we defend human rights‘ is available at www.foei.org/resources/publications/publications-by-subject/human-rights-defenders-publications/we-defend-the-environment-we-defend-human-rights/

For some of my earlier posts on environmental issues and human rights defenders see: https://thoolen.wordpress.com/tag/environmental-issues/