Introducing ICHRP

The ICHRP was first conceived in 1994 by a group of eminent human rights advocates, scholars and policy makers, to address the dilemmas and challenges of translating international human rights principles and standards into policy realities. Between 1998 and 2012 it undertook thirty-five major research projects addressing a wide range of policy questions and providing a forum for applied research, reflection and forward thinking.

The ICHRP identified issues that impeded the promotion and protection of human rights in policy-making across the globe, and proposed strategies to overcome these obstacles. It stimulated co-operation and exchange across the non-governmental, governmental and intergovernmental sectors, and strove to mediate between competing perspectives and communities of practice.

ICHRP’s intellectual autonomy, willingness to engage with complexity, readiness to break boundaries of discipline and practice, and commitment to rigour and collaboration continues to render its work, approach and contributions relevant.



The International Council was conceived in 1994 by a small group of eminent human rights advocates, scholars and policy makers, lead by Philip Alston, Thomas Hammarberg and Margo Picken, to address the dilemmas and challenges of translating human rights principles and standards into policy realities. Their proposal, supported by a detailed advisory paper which Helena Cook and Christopher Bemrose prepared in June 1994, was subsequently discussed with a large number of human rights thinkers and organisations around the world.

The consultation identified the main principles that guided the ICHRP’s research methodology: strict independence; open-ended research with wide applicability (rather than a focusing on specific human rights violations by individual actors); a geographically inclusive and multidisciplinary approach; and a highly consultative and collaborative methodology.

In 1996, a founding Board was created. Its members were Thomas Hammarberg (Chair), Philip Alston, Abdullahi An-Na’im, Ligia Bolivar, Hina Jilani and Virginia Leary. At this stage, the organisation was called the International Human Rights Policy Research Institute.

The first Council was appointed in 1997. Its members were: Philip Alston, Abdullahi An-Na’im, Carlos Basombrio, Ligia Bolivar, Theo van Boven, Antonio A. Cancado Trindade, Stanley Cohen, Radhika Coomeraswamy, Yash Ghai, Thomas Hammarberg, Bahey El Din Hassan, Ayesha Imam, Hina Jilani, Virginia Leary, Goenawan Mohamed, Bacre Waly Ndiaye, Margo Picken, Barney Pityana, Daniel Ravindran, Dorothy Thomas and Renate Weber. The first meeting took place in Cairo in September 1997 and subsequent Council meetings have been held in Lima, Jakarta, Guadalajara, Lahore, Budapest, Bangkok, Kampala and Geneva.

An interim Secretariat was set up in London in 1996 under Lynn Welchmann. In 1998, the Secretariat was established in Geneva under the first Executive Director, Robert Archer. The research programme began in earnest towards the end of that year, on the basis of several initial mapping papers that were prepared by the staff—especially the two first Research Directors, David Petrasek and Mohamed-Mahmoud Ould Mohamedou—and by Andrew Clapham.

A lean and agile Secretariat with staff from different regions of the world carried out research projects by building global research teams and disseminating findings through outreach and policy advocacy initiatives. The organisation’s commitment to diversity was also institutionalised within the governing body, the International Council, whose members were leading lights in human rights activism, policy-making, academia, social movements, inter-governmental organisations and other communities of practice. The ICHRP therefore had a unique ability to create distinct networks of geo-political and multi-disciplinary expertise.

The Executive Board of ICHRP decided to close down the organisation in December 2011 in the light of continued financial difficulties. Despite its closure, the ICHRP leaves behind a rich legacy through both the knowledge it generated as well as its approach and methods that made a distinct contribution to the promotion and protection of human rights.

You can find out more about the ICHRP from the archive of all materials pertaining to its history and founding, operations over the years, research materials and communications at the library of the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva.

The International Council’s mission and approach


The ICHRP’s mission was to ensure that human rights principles and standards emerged as significant drivers of national and global public policy. To this end, our overall goal was to enhance the footprint of human rights on public policy by, on the one hand, helping policy makers address important issues from a human rights point of view, and on the other to identify and clarify emerging policy challenges in a way that would enable the human rights community to fashion meaningful responses.

Method and approach

The ICHRP set out to do practical research in the field of human rights that was independent, international, multidisciplinary and consultative. The work sought to blend the bold and change-driven concerns that fuel human rights activism, the pragmatic and institutional concerns underpinning policy-making, and the analytical rigour of scholarship. It aimed to stimulate co-operation and exchange across the non-governmental, governmental and intergovernmental sectors, and strove to mediate between competing perspectives. Thus, the ICHRP approach, while multi-disciplinary and international, was characterised by the ability to convene, as equals, actors with differing viewpoints and geo-political orientations.

The ICHRP interpreted “human rights” broadly, not confining its mandate to a purely legal understanding. Much of its work was pragmatic rather than normative and often looked at how institutions actually behave, rather than at how they ought to be constructed. It was also willing to think “outside the box”, recognising that one of its most important roles was to provoke fresh thinking, address areas of contradiction and emerging issues, and “imagine” the future evolution of human rights work.

All the research had a practical focus on issues that organisations working operationally on human rights considered to need attention, and projects were designed to generate practical and useful findings. Theoretical work was undertaken when it had practical use; for example, where theoretical difficulties were hampering human rights work.

The ICHRP did not undertake work on specific cases of human rights violations or monitoring, instead identifying issues that impede the promotion and protection of human rights across the globe, and proposing approaches and strategies that would advance that purpose. National or local fieldwork was undertaken to support the broader research.

While the ICHRP was firmly independent of governments and inter-governmental agencies, and voluntary and private sector organisations, it worked closely with such bodies in the pursuit of its research objectives. A large number of bi-lateral agencies and private foundations supported the ICHRP but funding was always sought for pre-designed research projects; the organisation never undertook commissioned research.

Generating and sustaining the trust of the many groups of people with whom it co-operated was central to the work of the ICHRP. Being transparent in its approach to research, consultation, reporting and follow-up was paramount. Its methodology relied on a model of progressive international consultation and aimed to involve target audiences increasingly as the research process advanced. Initially, the work was done by a small group of experts. However, as research continued more people with skills or responsibility in the area concerned were consulted about drafts (which were made available on the website for comment), research findings and recommendations. The process was always an open one. At each stage, the consultation was designed to cover more institutions and individuals from across the world and take account of their feedback. The aim was to enable a widening circle of people with a direct interest to engage with the content of the research, to improve it, to acquire a sense of ownership over the findings, and finally to support or promote them – leading to practical action informed by sound research.

Council members

The International Council was the governing body of the ICHRP and had up to 30 members. Council members were distinguished individuals from diverse fields and were appointed by the Executive Board, on the recommendation of a Nominations Committee composed of one Board member and two Council members. Council members met annually to debate emerging issues that the ICHRP should work on and advised the Board and Secretariat on possible themes for research. Each member served for up to six years in a private capacity.


Fouad Abdelmoumni (Morocco) Monica Aleman (Nicaragua) Magda Ali (Sudan) ° Ghanim Alnajjar (Kuwait) Philip Alston (Australia)° Abdullahi An-Na’im (Sudan)° Lydia Alpízar Durán (Costa Rica) Fateh Azzam (Palestine) ° Hossam Bahgat (Egypt) Radhika Balakrishnan (India) Carlos Basombrio (Peru)° Maggie Beirne (United Kingdom) ° Akila Belembaogo (Burkina Faso) ° Ligia Bolivar (Venezuela)° Tapan Kumar Bose (India) ° Theo van Boven (The Netherlands)° Cynthia Brown (United States) Charlotte Bunch (United States)° William Burklé (Switzerland)° Santiago A Canton (Argentina) Kamala Chandrakirana (Indonesia) Stanley Cohen (United Kingdom)° Radhika Coomeraswamy (Sri Lanka) David Fernández Dávalos sj (Mexico) Pablo De Greiff (Colombia) Maria Marta Delgado (Uruguay) Lyse Doucet (Canada) Tiébilé Dramé (Mali) ° Bahey El Din Hassan (Egypt) Eyad Rajab El-Sarraj (Palestine) Dharam Ghai (Kenya) Yash Ghai (Kenya)° Stefanie Grant (United Kingdom)° Thomas Hammarberg (Sweden)° Dina Haynes (United States) Maya Hertig Randall (Switzerland) ° Sara Hossain (Bangladesh) Ayesha Imam (Nigeria)° Asma Jahangir (Pakistan)° Imrana Jalal (Fiji)° Hina Jilani (Pakistan)° Walter Kälin (Switzerland)° Konstantin Korkelia (Georgia) ° Virginia Leary (United States)° Ian Martin (United Kingdom) ° Douglas Mendes (Trinidad & Tobago) Juan Méndez (Argentina) Tessa Morris-Suzuki (Australia) Goenawan Mohamad (Indonesia) Jessica Montell (Israel) ° Bacre Waly Ndiaye (Senegal)° Chidi Anselm Odinkalu (Nigeria) ° Devendra Raj Panday (Nepal) Taswell Papier (South Africa) ° Jelena Pejic (Serbia)



ICHRP’s Contribution

Given the complexity of policy processes the ICHRP laid great emphasis on a collaborative approach, a discreet profile, and sharing rather than ownership. It considered its work as having made a critical contribution when, as a result of the process or outputs of research: key actors adopted its language or approach; a shift in thinking or approach ensued; the influence of human rights on policy expanded; or, human rights practice or theory was otherwise enriched. Some examples of the nature of ICHRP’s specific contributions are discussed below.

Most of ICHRP’s projects were forward looking, addressing emerging issues that were not yet a priority for the human rights movement. For example, Beyond Voluntarism (2000) helped to catalyse a new discussion of business responsibilities in relation to human rights and Duties Sans Frontières (2003) broke new ground in addressing obligations of governments in relation to economic and social rights beyond their borders. Climate Change and Human Rights: A Rough Guide (2008) demonstrated the relevance of human rights to climate justice. It was influential and informed work in the UN, human rights and environmental advocacy, and research and scholarship. It paved the way for important work on linking Climate Technology Policy and Human Rights (2011).

Other ICHRP projects proved very effective and timely responses to new institutional developments. For example, Performance & Legitimacy: National Human Rights Institutions (2000) and a follow-up project, Assessing the Effectiveness of National Human Rights Institutions (2005), undertaken jointly with UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), were the first major global enquiries of their kind and have been widely used across OHCHR, national institutions and civil society.

Many ICHRP projects also enabled significant new links between governance, public administration and human rights by treating major policy concerns from a human rights point of view. Corruption and human rights: making the connection (2008) and Integrating human rights in the anti-corruption agenda (2010) influenced the work of national anti-corruption and human rights institutions and lead to the rooting of human rights concerns within the work of anti-corruption organisations. They helped to align Transparency International’s policy-making more closely with the human rights framework and have been translated into many languages. Local Rule: Decentralisation and Human Rights (2002) and Local Government and Human Rights: Doing Good Service (2005) were amongst the first to examine decentralisation, public services and local government from a human rights point of view and clarify the policy links.

Other ICHRP projects were influential in generating fresh thinking on long-standing policy challenges or untangling controversial questions from a human rights viewpoint. For example, Local Perspectives: Foreign Aid to the Justice Sector (2000) engaged the interest of, and was used by, several donor agencies as a reference during policy discussions and continues to remain relevant. Similarly both Ends & Means: Human Rights Approaches to Armed Groups (2006) and Negotiating Justice? Human Rights & Peace Agreements (2006) brought a fresh human rights perspective to a complex set of problems and were appreciated by a range of national and international actors. Sexuality and Human Rights (2009) and Navigating the Dataverse (2011) are both examples of ICHRP work seeking to clear the way for more constructive engagement with complex and controversial issues by clarifying human rights concerns.

Other projects reviewed keys developments in human rights, identifying lessons learned and future challenges. Human Rights Standards: Learning from Experience (2006) examined the history of past standard-setting processes and provided insights for such work in the future. Catching the Wind (2007), ICHRP’s tenth anniversary report, reviewed major trends in society and human rights since the early 1990s and identified new challenges that will continue to require human rights attention in coming years.

ICHRP’s convening power was unique, and enabled human rights actors to engage in conversations and collaboration that would otherwise have been difficult, often leading to advancing new agendas. A 1999 convening in relation to ICHRP’s work on universal jurisdiction helped strengthen thinking and advocacy on the issue and is viewed as an important milestone. In a similar vein, a 2010 Colloquium brought together human rights advocates, development experts and macro-economists from around the world as well as senior representatives from multilateral and intergovernmental institutions, in conversation to help advance understanding of human rights considerations in economic policy making.

ICHRP’s work on legal pluralism, When Legal Worlds Overlap (2009) brought together advocates working on rights of women and indigenous people; lawyers; anthropologists; experts in rule of law, and law and development to develop human rights approach to questions of ’non-state’ or ‘customary’ justice and pluralism in family law etc. ICHRP’s work on Social Control (2010) brought together human rights advocates, criminologists, sociologists and experts in migration, urban planning, health and policing to develop a new understanding of state-driven social control measures across diverse policy areas. This in turn paved the way for a multi-disciplinary convening of activists and experts on penalising poverty (2011) which contributed significantly to a path breaking report from the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights to the UNGA on this issue (A/66/265).

The ICHRP actively engaged with a wide range of actors, drawing from and influencing their work, expanding the footprint of human rights on policy making. Close collaboration with several UN and other international agencies, as well as national and local NGOs, universities and research centres enabled wider dissemination and translations of ICHRP reports and summaries in several languages. More importantly, it led to them being widely used as tools in supporting advocacy, in training and capacity building, and as teaching and resource materials.


Explore ICHRP projects

You can also use the projects list page to browse the list of our reports.


No Perfect Measure: Rethinking Evaluationand Assessment of Human Rights Work

Is the emphasis on a results-based culture and value for money having a disproportionate impact on the work of human rights organisations? How do evaluation and impact assessment practices shape priorities, objectives and processes in human rights work? Are human rights organisations being discouraged from taking risks and pursuing long-term agendas in favour of projects that are easier to measure and ‘prove’ as successful? No Perfect Measure focuses on the political and normative issues underlying these questions and concerns. More…


Sexual Health and Human Rights in the European Region

This report constitutes the European section of a large global project on sexual health and human rights, commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), which aims to contribute to the recognition, understanding and application of human rights standards related to sexuality and sexual health. The report analyses legal practices around sexual health issues within the context of law, jurisprudence and case law in the European region, and explores the application of human rights standards to these issues, covering topics such as discrimination, violence, gender identity, same-sex relations, health services, regulation of marriage and sex work. More…


Climate change: technology policy and human rights

Coming at a critical time in the negotiations, this new report addresses issues that are central to technology policy. The report aims to translate between the language and concerns of environmental activists and those of human rights advocates, so that common principles might be found and a common position forged. Climate technology policy has generally been conceived as a means to address a central injustice associated with climate change – that activities that have primarily benefited the inhabitants of the world’s richest states will disproportionately affect those living in the world’s poorest states. As a result, ‘technology transfer’ has long been recognised as an indispensable element of a stable future and a global deal, both practically and politically. More…

ReportEN Summary EN

Navigating the Dataverse, Privacy, Technology, Human Rights: A Discussion Paper

The Discussion Paper examines the human rights implications of the immense diffusion of data-gathering technologies across the world in recent years. It starts from the premise that the relevant issues, while much discussed, are not yet well understood and are evolving rapidly, both of which contribute to widespread anxiety. More…


Penalising poverty: A Platform-Network for collaborative research and advocacy

Across the world, people living in poverty are disproportionately subject to stigmatisation, segregation, surveillance and criminalisation. Partly, this is due to the increasing use of criminal and non-criminal measures that directly target or disproportionately impact people living in poverty, such as legislation on vagrancy or begging; regulations on eating or sleeping in public places; and policing practices such as ‘move-on’ powers. More…


Reach the Online Forum

Conflict, Media and Human Rights – Report from a roundtable

Securing peace and ending armed conflict and indiscriminate acts of violence against civilians present significant challenges to peace and the protection of human rights in South Asia and around the world. Central to an effective response to this challenge is to understand how public discourse, especially within the media, can be steered towards enabling a more transparent, well-informed policy response with positive human rights outcomes. More…

ReportEN Summary EN

Modes and Patterns of Social Control: Implications for Human Rights Policy

This project looks into the human rights implications of contemporary patterns of social control: how laws and policies construct and respond to people, behaviour or status defined as “undesirable”, “dangerous”, criminal or socially problematic. More…

ReportEN Working PapersPolicing and SurveillancePunishment and IncarcerationInfection DiseasesRoma in EuropeMigration

Human Rights Organisations: Rights and Responsabilities

The Council first initiated thinking on a research project on rights and responsibilities of human rights NGOs in 2002. The project was meant to explore issues of legitimacy and accountability, focusing particularly on human rights NGOs and address following questions: what are the essential elements of “legitimacy” and “accountability” for human rights NGOs and what benefits will human rights NGOs obtain by demonstrating clearly that they are accountable and legitimate – and what risks might they face? More…


Irregular Migration, Human Smuggling and Human Rights

This project examines the provisions that protect undocumented and smuggled migrants under international human rights law, and suggests how they might be integrated in migration policies, alongside economic and law enforcement considerations. More…

ReportEN Summary EN, ES, FR Working PapersHuman Smuggling and MigrationRights of Smuggled Migrants & International Human Rights LawCountry papersA UK PerspectiveA Malaysian PerspectiveA Mexico PerspectiveAn Italian Perspective

When Legal Worlds Overlap: Human Rights, State and Non-State Law

This report highlights human rights impacts and dilemmas associated with plural state and non-state laws, such as family laws based on religion, customary justice practices and Alternative Dispute Resolution mechanisms. Drawing on examples of such plural legal orders from around the world, it proposes principles and a framework to guide human rights practitioners and policy-makers. The report also identifies challenges related to incorporation of non-state law in state law, recognition of cultural differences in law, and justice sector reform. More…

ReportEN Summary EN, ES, FR Working PapersPersonal Status Systems: Israel, Egypt & IndiaLegal Pluralism and Human RightsState-Indigenous Relations in Western Settler Societies

Human Rights in the Global Economy – Colloquium report 2010

The widespread impacts of the financial and economic crisis have underlined the importance of going beyond dominant disciplinary wisdom as well as established policy prescriptions and institutional practices in economic policy-making. The 2010 Colloquium was aimed at enabling human rights professionals, policy-makers and economists alike to develop a better understanding of where and how human rights values, standards and methods can be relevant and effective with respect to macroeconomic policy making. More…

ReportEN PapersList of ParticipantsAgenda

Sexuality and Human Rights: Discussion Paper

The paper sets out many of the questions, conflicts and dilemmas that mark this subject and impede discussions of sexuality and sexual rights. It frames the issue in ways that we feel will be useful and fresh for activists, policy-makers and human rights practitioners. More…

ReportEN, ES

Climate change and human rights

What are the human rights implications of climate change? From new health risks, such as the increased incidence of malaria, to mass migration, to threatened food and water supplies, to the disappearance of shelter, land, livelihoods and cultures, climate change creates human rights concerns at every turn. More…

ReportEN SummaryEN Cambridge University Press Volume – Climate Change and Human Rights

Talking about Terrorism – Risks and Choices for Human Rights Organisations

Have human rights organisations responded adequately to the threat of international terrorism and official responses to that threat? This report reaffirms that the core mission of human rights advocates is to make sure that governments respect human rights and the rule of law. Human rights organisations should participate in efforts to agree a sound definition of terrorism in international law. More…

ReportEN SummaryEN, ES, FR Working PapersTerrorism by Non-State ActorsPolitical Violence and TerrorHuman Rights Defenders and State PressureAdvocacy Strategies and Terrorism

Corruption and human rights: Integrating human rights in the anti-corruption agenda

A taboo subject until the early 1990s, corruption is now under the spotlight and recognised as one of the biggest obstacles to development. Anti-corruption laws have been enacted, treaties like the United Nations Convention Against Corruption have been negotiated and ratified and new anti-corruption bodies are springing up. More…

ReportEN, ES, HY Working PapersHuman Rights and Anti CorruptionCorruption and Gender in Ghana

Corruption and human rights: Making the Connection

In recent years, governments and international organisations have taken many initiatives to reduce corruption. However, the issue has rarely been analysed from the point of view of human rights. The project aims to assist organisations that prosecute or support anti-corruption policies to apply human rights effectively to strengthen their programmes; to make human rights bodies and mechanisms more accessible to those who work to end corruption; and to make anti-corruption methods and practices more accessible to human rights advocates. More…

ReportEN, ES, HY, SR, TH Working PapersCompliance with Human Rights StandardsNational Integrity SystemsCorruption and Gender in GhanaCorruption and Hard Law Links Combating Corruption, Respecting Human RightsCombating Corruption with Rights to InformationInvestigating Corruption: an insider viewHuman Rights and Levels of CorruptionImpact of Corruption on Right to HealthImpact of Corruption on Access to JusticeAnti-Corruption CampaignsRole of NHRIs

Negotiating Justice? Human Rights and Peace Agreements

Are peace agreements negotiated more easily if they include references to human rights? If so, is peace more durable as a result? Negotiating Justice? examines eight recent peace agreements to assess how they addressed such issues as impunity and forcible displacement. It concludes that human rights can make practical and positive contributions to many areas of conflict resolution. More…

ReportEN, FR SummaryEN, ES, FR Working PapersForcible DisplacementEstablishing National Institutions in Divided SocietiesLaw Enforcement Agencies and Judiciary ReformTransitional Justice and Peace Agreements Country papersBosnia & HerzegovinaBurundiEl SalvadorCambodiaGuatemalaMozambiqueSierra LeoneBelfast Agreement

Human Rights Standards: Learning from Experience

Since the Universal Declaration on Human Rights was adopted in 1948, numerous human rights standards have been created at the initiative of states, non-governmental organisations, victims, and other actors. They have transformed international law. Human Rights Standards: Learning from Experience examines the unpredictable history of past standard-setting and the options available to those who advocate new standards in the future. More…

ReportEN, ES Working PapersILO StandardsRight to Remedy and ReparationStandards of Inter-American System of HR ProtectionChildren in Armed Conflict in CRC Mine Ban ConventionUNHCR Standard-SettingBangalore Principles of Judicial ConductUN Draft Declaration on Rights of Indigenous PeoplesOptional Protocol to the International Covenant on ESC RightsDeclaration of Minimum Humanitarian Standards

Catching the Wind – Human Rights: Tenth Anniversary Reflection

This report reviews major trends in society and human rights since the International Council on Human Rights Policy was first conceived in the early 1990s and looks forward to some of the new challenges that will require human rights attention in coming years. More…


Assessing the Effectiveness of National Human Rights Institutions

How should national human rights institutions assess themselves? This report reviews the characteristics of effective national institutions and the international standards for their work, set out in the Paris Principles. It proposes benchmarks, based on these Principles, and suggests how quantitative and qualitative indicators can help institutions to improve their performance and measure the impact of their activities. More…

ReportEN, ES, FR, AR, RU, UK

Local Government and Human Rights: Doing Good Service

Health, education, water supply, housing, policing, roads: the services that local governments deliver determine our quality of life. As states decentralise, moreover, the influence of local governments is increasing almost everywhere.It suggests how human rights principles and methods can strengthen public accountability and participation and assist officials to plan, implement and evaluate services for which they are responsible. More…

ReportEN, RU SummaryEN, ES, FR, RU Working Papers (country cases) • SenegalIndiaBoliviaThe PhilippinesUkraineTanzania

Enhancing Access to Human Rights

Why are many individuals, particularly those who are vulnerable because of exclusion, poverty and discrimination, unable to obtain benefits and rights to which they are entitled in law? This report examines the impediments that obstruct large numbers of people from accessing the full range of human rights. It analyses the performance and responsibilities of governments and other institutions, and identifies new forms of action that official and human rights organisations might need to undertake if access is to be improved. More…

ReportEN SummaryEN, ES, FR Working PapersMigrants’ RightsObstacles & IssuesGender EqualityThe Implementation GapIndigenous PeoplesInformal ObstaclesInformal ResponsesLatin AmericaRural CommunitiesUrban Poor

Duties sans Frontières – Human Rights and Global Social Justice

When do wealthier societies have a duty to help much poorer ones? What are the limits of a government’s obligations to people in other countries? To what extent do a government’s duties abroad take priority over responsibilities to its own citizens? Are such obligations merely ethical or do they include a legal dimension? In considering such questions, this report draws on human rights law to strengthen more familiar appeals to ethics and self-interest, and provides additional tools that citizens and officials alike can use to argue for more dynamic and effective international action to end poverty and injustice. More…

ReportEN Working PapersExtra-National Obligations and Economic & Social RightsA Survey of Moral PhilosophyGlobal Public Goods & Collective ActionHuman Rights and Global Social EquitabilityESC Rights and Justice Case Law

Crime, Public Order and Human Rights

What problems arise for civil society when surges in criminality occur, or when crime is perceived to intensify in periods of change? This study examines the problems that arise for human rights workers when there is public demand for severe law and order policies to curb crime, and asks what would make their work more legitimate and effective. More…

ReportEN SummaryEN, ES, FR, RU, UK Working PapersCombating Crime and Respecting Human RightsCrime and Public OrderCrime, Rights and Order: Analytical FrameworkCauses, Perceptions and Effects of CrimeProliferation of Crime: BrazilHuman Rights Restrictions against Rising CrimeImpact of Crime on Human RightsCountry papersArgentinaBrazilNigeriaUkraine

Beyond Voluntarism: Human Rights and the Developing International Legal Obligations of Companies

The private sector increasingly accepts that it has social and moral responsibilities. In recent years many companies have introduced codes of conduct and other forms of voluntary initiatives. But do private companies have a legal responsibility to respect human rights? This report sets out the legal obligations of states when business activity has an impact on human rights, and explores the degree to which companies might have direct obligations under international human rights law. More…

ReportEN SummaryEN, ES, FR Working PapersMultilateral Investment Treaty and Human Rights Country papers • HungaryThe PhilippinesCanada

Human Rights Crises: NGO Responses to Military Interventions

International military forces have intervened in several recent conflicts to protect civilians caught up in human rights crises. In others, they have failed to do so. Does military force help? When is it appropriate? Who should approve its use? Written before the war in Iraq, this report looks at how human rights NGOs deal with situations in which armed force is proposed to protect civilian lives. More…

ReportEN Working PapersMilitary Intervention in Human Rights CrisesMilitary Intervention to Protect Human RightsLegitimacy of Armed Humanitarian Intervention

Human Rights After September 11

Human Rights after September 11 discusses changes in the international political environment after the suicide attacks on the United States in 2001. It examines threats to civil liberties, discrimination and the polarisation of public opinion, United States exceptionalism, and some of the large human rights challenges that lie ahead. More…

ReportEN, DE Working PapersAnti-Globalisation MovementLegitimacy and Accountability of NGOsNGOs and the Cultivation of Humanitarian DutyCivil Liberties, Refugees, Intolerance and Discrimination after 9/11Human Rights in Foreign PolicyHumanitarian Action and TerrorismMilitary Force and Criminal Justice post-9/11: USAReligious Fundamentalism and Infringement on Freedoms: USA9/11 and the International Crisis9/11 Impacts on Human RightsTerrorism and Human RightsAnti–Globalisation Movement Strengths and WeaknessesDrugs Trade, Arms Trade, International Crime and Financial Crime post-9/11Media post-9/11Universality of Human Rights and American and Islamic Jihad

Journalism, Media and the Challenge of Human Rights Reporting

How do journalists select and cover human rights stories? How can one avoid bias or distortion of human rights information? Addressing these questions, this report examines the news and reporting process and its relations with human rights organisations. It assesses the difficulties of communicating complex human rights issues accurately and suggests ways in which coverage of human rights could be improved. More…

ReportEN, PT SummaryEN, ES, FR Working PapersImpact of the Economic Sanctions in Media: IraqPinochet, Media and Universal Jurisdiction • Country papers • BurundiKosovoNational HR Institutions and Reliable Media

Local Rule: Decentralisation and Human Rights

Development and governance experts have studied decentralisation extensively. What happens when local authorities assume responsibility for education, policing or land use? Are minorities and poor communities better protected? Does devolution genuinely improve political accountability or entrench the power of local elites? Based on seven case studies, the report suggests how adopting a human rights approach might make decentralisation efforts more successful. More…

ReportEN Working Papers (country cases) • RussiaThe PhilippinesUgandaChileIndia

Racial and Economic Exclusion: Policy Implications

Prepared in the context of the 2001 United Nations World Conference against Racism, Racial Discrimination, Xenophobia and Related Intolerance, this report discusses the particular challenge of entrenched discrimination linked to poverty. It argues that co-ordinated action across a range of policy areas is required to end entrenched economic and racial exclusion, and identifies some of the policies that need to be combined to make long-term change possible. More…

ReportEN, ES, FR Working PapersEthnic Discrimination, Economic Inequality, and Political Exclusion: EcuadorRacial Justice & MoralityEconomics of Racism in BrazilAboriginal Peoples: CanadaAboriginal Peoples: BenonDalits in IndiaUS Globalisation and Racial Subordination

Armed groups: approaches to influencing their behaviour

Armed groups are active in numerous civil conflicts. Considered “terrorists” by some and “liberation fighters” by others, such groups have been responsible for serious abuses of human rights. These abuses primarily affect civilians but they raise many concerns for organisations that work for peace, protect human rights, or provide humanitarian relief. What can be done to influence the behaviour of armed groups? What obstacles face those who try to take action? What factors make an armed group more or less likely to respect human rights and humanitarian norms? More…

ReportEN SummaryEN, ES, FR Working PapersAfrican National CongressHuman Rights Approaches to Armed Groups • Country papers • The PhilippinesColombiaSouth SudanNorthern IrelandTurkeyUgandaEl SalvadorPeru

Local Perspectives: Foreign Aid to the Justice Sector

This report examines the factors that make aid programmes successful or not. Based on interviews with beneficiaries in four countries, it examines aid programmes to the justice sector. The information gathered suggests that such aid has facilitated constitutional development and legislative reforms, helped strengthen justice systems, and introduced human rights concepts to the public and into public institutions in societies where such notions were once seen as subversive. More…

ReportEN SummaryEN, ES, FR

Performance & Legitimacy: National Human Rights Institutions

This report examines the degree to which national human rights institutions are successful in carrying out their mandate to promote human rights and protect the rights of citizens. The study assesses how national human rights institutions acquire legitimacy and a reputation for effectiveness. Based on research in three countries, it includes practical recommendations for strengthening their work, and their creation. More…

ReportEN, UK SummaryEN, ES, FR, ID

The Persistence and Mutation of Racism

In different forms racism is to be found in every society on earth. It is associated with certain forms of entrenched poverty and certain kinds of extreme violence. It is a denial of human relationship. Yet for many people it remains almost invisible, unnoticed except when violence is involved. Those who do not experience it often fail to understand how profoundly offensive it is. This short report surveyed some of the main issues that preoccupy people who suffer from racism or who study its effects. More…

ReportEN, ES, FR

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