Geneva, June 2015
Dear friends of FES,
We are happy to introduce the latest version of the FES Geneva human rights newsletter.
The Department of Global Policy and Development of
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) runs offices in New York and Geneva,
which work in close collaboration with the United Nations and related
international organizations. As a result o
consequent role as the world capital of human rights and humanitarian
activities, a major focus of our work at FES Geneva lies with human
. The current Human Rights Team Geneva comprises our new program officer Hannah Peters, replacing Felix Kirchmeier who left FES after almost ten years of service, Noreen Eberle, Assistant Program Manager, as well as myself.
In this issue, we will look at current events and issues of climate
change and human rights leading up to the Conference of the Parties to
the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in
Paris in December, outline key events and questions in the area of
Business and Human Rights and reflect how UN mechanisms and Treaty
Bodies can inform international agreements from a human rights approach.
For further information, please see the human rights logo of FES Geneva and fes.de/GPol/inhalt/menschenrechte.htm (in German only).
We hope you will find our selection useful and look forward to suggestions and feedback
Hubert René Schillinger, Director FES Geneva
climate change through immediate and drastic emission reduction while
mitigating the already apparent and future impacts of climate change is
one of the most pressing challenges faced by the international community
Under the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) countries committed to creating a new international climate agreement at the Paris Climate Summit in December 2015 (COP 21).
At COP 21, state actors from developed, developing and emerging
countries are called upon to use this opportunity to clearly define
internationally binding targets on carbon emission reduction, energy
efficiency and adaptation and mitigation strategies to climate change.
In order to make a significant contribution to mitigating climate change
while simultaneously promoting growth and development the outcome
agreement needs to be based on consultations with actors from civil
society and local communities.
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung supports the process of rapprochement of
different positions and interests by strengthening the dialogue between
social and political actors from industrialized, developing and emerging
economies as well as civil society actors.
The following activities lie at the core of FES Geneva's Human Rights and Climate Change work:
Geneva Climate Change Concertation Group (GeCCco): As an informal
roundtable for improved networking and coherence between NGOs working in
the field of human rights and climate change, GeCCco was launched in
2014 by FES, Earthjustice and Ciel. This platform offers exchange
opportunities on ongoing processes not only in relation to COP 21 and
the ADP drafting process but also to the Human Rights Council and
- Cooperation with UN Treaty Bodies and Special Rapporteurs to move debates on a human rights approach to climate change forward.
of strategies for further anchoring the topic of climate change and
related issues in the Human Rights Council, namely by organizing side
events during the sessions.
Recent Geneva Human Rights and Climate Change events
17 June 2015, 01:00 - 03:00 pm, Palais des Nations, Room 3025, Geneva, Switzerland
this Side Event human rights risks and challenges for business created
by climate change were discussed. The meeting was organised by the
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and the Business & Human Rights Resource
6th of March the HRC held a full-day panel in the official program of
the HRC addressing the issue of climate change. To complement the
governmental discussions, FES, jointly with many NGOs active in this
field, hosted a Side Event to offer civil society perspectives and
debate claims on future action by the HRC and the UNFCCC to strengthen
policy coherence and human rights protection in climate related action.
Practitioners from business, trade unions, governments and human rights
organizations shared their experiences and ideas for effective
approaches to injecting human rights in climate change actions in the
lead-up to the Paris conference.
17 June 2015, 09:00 - 12:00 am, Geneva, Switzerland
the run-up to the COP 21 climate conference in Paris at the end of this
year, the Business & Human Rights Resource Centre and FES Geneva
organized an expert workshop to discuss human rights risks and
challenges for business created by climate change. While the main
obligations are on governments, companies are in a powerful position to
mitigate the disproportionate impact of climate change on the most
vulnerable and help them adapt.
06 March 2015, 01:00 - 03:00 pm, Room XXVII, UN Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerl
06 February 2015, 01.00-03.00 pm, CAGI conference room, Geneva, Switzerland
Earthjustice and CIEL, as initiators of GeCCco (Geneva Climate Change
concertation group) organized a coordination meeting at the occasion of
the Geneva session of the UNFCCC ADP negotiations that took place from
8-13 February. The meeting helped to coordinate the NGO communities
focused on the HRC and the UNFCCC respectively.
More information on UNFCCC ADP
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR)
is an unique mechanism of the UN Human Rights Council,
which consists of the review of human rights policy and practice of all
UN Member States, once every four and a half years. In 2012
the first cycle of the procedure has been completed
and the second started. Again, all 193
member states will be reviewed by the international
community. NGOs have the opportunity to submit
written civil society reports reflecting civil
society perspectives. Despite the weaknesses of the
process this mechanism is the sole opportunity to combine and
evaluate information from government, civil
society and UN treaty bodies.
Calendar of the review of the 2nd cycle (2012-2016)
Recent Geneva UPR Events
07 May 2015, 12.30 - 02:30 pm, Palais des Nations, Room XXIV, Geneva, Switzerland
6 and 8 May, Panama and Honduras underwent their second UPR review. FES
supported civil society actors in both countries in submitting reports
to the review, in both cases focusing on workers’ rights. The joint side
event discussed the submissions as well as the human rights
performances of both governments.
Recent Geneva Business and Human Rights Events
14 - 15 March 2015, Château de Bossey, Switzerland
aim of the proposed dialogue was to strengthen NHRIs' capacities to
participate effectively in the coming international processes in which
the possible development of legal frameworks addressing business' human
rights responsibilities will be addressed.
This aim was met by reaching the following objectives:
for exchanges on NHRIs' knowledge regarding current and future
processes that may lead to development of new legal frameworks on
business and human rights
NHRIs' knowledge of research and perspectives relevant to development
of new legal frameworks on business and human rights
mutual understanding amongst NHRIs of experiences and perspectives on
legal frameworks on business and human rights
- Identifying common goals amongst NHRIs for the current and future processes towards new legal frameworks
Brainstorming Session on Business and Human Rights: Access to Justice and Extraterritorial Obligations
26 February 2015, 03:30 - 06:00 pm, Geneva, Switzerland
for Human Rights-Global Training and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung
jointly organized a Brainstorming Session on Business and Human Rights.
brainstorming session focused on access to justice for victims and
human rights defenders as well as extraterritorial obligations of State
parties. The aim was to sensitize the actors involved, to offer a space
for discussion and to exchange views on ways to improve the existing
tools, as well as to carefully prepare the forthcoming first session of
the negotiations on the binding instrument.
To read the contribution of Prof. Shane Darcy (Irish Center for HR), please click here
To read the contribution of Prof. Sigrun Skogly (ETO consortium / Lancaster University), please click here
Recent Human Rights Training Courses
2015 Individual Human Rights Training Courses
the first six month of 2015 civil society activists from Uruguay, Nepal
and Brasil, recommended by our FES country offices, were selected to
participate at Human Rights training courses at our Geneva-based partner
organizations Geneva for Human Rights, the Geneva Academy and the International Service for Human Rights.
Training Course for National Human Rights Institutions on international human rights mechanisms
04 - 08 May 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
The training, developed especially for staff of National Human Rights Institutions world-wide, supported participants in
• Expanding their knowledge of the functioning of UN human rights mechanisms;
• Identifying concrete opportunities for NHRIs' effective engagement;
• Participating in sessions of UN human rights mechanisms;
• Identifying practical ways of effective engagement with the UN mechanisms, such as report writing and following up;
• Engaging with colleagues from the OHCHR and NGOs as well as with states; and
• Exchanging experiences and best practices with peer NHRIs participating in the training
Human Rights Council: 29th regular session
Recent Human Rights Events
15 June - 03 July 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
Program of work
roundtable discussion at the 29th session of the UN Human Rights
Council on Accountability Mechanisms for implementing the SDGs
18 June 2015, 01:00 – 03:00 pm, Palais des Nations, Room XVII, Geneva, Switzerland
In the context of the UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda in September 2015, this side event to the 29th session of the HRC discussed the importance of human rights principles in informing the debates on accountability for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The meeting addressed issues of claims and standards
for accountability, as per existing international human rights law, as
well as considerations how the Universal Periodic Review mechanism
currently in place at the HRC could best serve as a model for a future
SDG accountability mechanism.
Click here for the audio recording of the event
Informal trade union meeting on CESCR General Comment on "Rights at Work"
12 June 2015, 06:15 - 10:00 pm, Geneva Switzerland
The UN Committee
on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights published a draft of their
upcoming General Comment on ICESCR Article 7 on “just and fair
conditions at work,” calling for comments and submissions by all
interested stakeholders. To facilitate input by trade unions, FES Geneva
offered this informal dialog with Committee Members ahead of the
official “Day of General Discussion” on the issue.
Ensuring the Right to Food through Human Rights Impact Assessments - Side Event to the 28th Session of the HRC
11 March 2015, 05:30 - 06:30 pm, Palais des Nations, Geneva Switzerland
At this expert round-table, the results of the Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA)-study “Owning seeds, accessing food”
were discussed. Following recent experiences in implementing HRIA in
practice, the panelists discussed the strengths and shortcomings of the
HRIA approach and identified challenges for future HRIAs. The discussion
also focused on the potential role of the UN human rights system in
strengthening HRIAs and in supporting its use in public policy making.
Upcoming Human Rights Events
Open-ended intergovernmental working group on transnational corporations and other business enterprises with respect to human rights
06 - 10 July 2015, Palais des Nations, Room XX, Geneva, Switzerland
At its 26th session, on 26 June 2014, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 26/9
by which it decided “to establish an open-ended intergovernmental
working group on transnational corporations and other business
enterprises with respect to human rights, whose mandate shall be to
elaborate an international legally binding instrument to regulate, in
international human rights law, the activities of transnational
corporations and other business enterprises.” The first session of the WG will take place from 06 - 10 July.
More info on the first session of the WG
Human Rights Council: 30th regular session
14 September - 2 October 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
23rd session of the UPR Working Group
02 - 13 November 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
4th Annual United Nations Forum on Business and Human Rights
16 -18 November 2015, Geneva, Switzerland