NEWS RELEASES - The International Center for Peace and Human Rights (CIPADH) attended the following side event at the Human Rights Council’s 36th Session: Documenting International Human Rights Standards and Practice held by Ahmed ADAM (from FORUM-ASIA), Felix KIRCHMEIER (from Geneva Academy), Friedheim WEINBERG (from HURIDOCS), Peggy HICKS (from OHCHR) and the moderator R. Iniyan ILANGO (from FORUM-ASIA). This meeting was held in the 27th of September and mainly covered the issue of accessibility of important information concerning the application and development of human rights. This report will first explain the problematic of the topic. It will then present the different views and proposed solutions of the guests before finally expressing final remarks.
There is a big amount of organizations that have been created in the last two decades, which considerably increases information about human rights. The problem lies in the fact that most of this information is difficult to access and is unorganized between NGOs, states and the UN. The people presenting this meeting have each expressed their views and proposed their solutions on the subject.
Views and solutions advanced by the meeting’s guests
All of the speakers agree on the fact that information about human rights really has to be accessible to everyone. This information is fundamental to make sure that we can call for assistance on a specific situation and call out a behavior that does not respect human rights. It is also useful in order to find solutions that will be able to better implement the respect of human rights.
Mr. WEINBERG gives the example of a website that efficiently shows the actions and non actions of the states involved as well as the analysis of FORUM ASIA per member state about their human rights situation. The website allows the better circulation of important information about human rights and thus could strengthen the executive mechanisms to better implement them. Some regional courts (such as the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and the African Court and Human and Peoples’ Rights) have recently made efforts on the public accessibility of their cases and jurisprudence.
Mr. ADAM outlines that many field NGOs are not aware of relevant human rights decisions taken by their country. It is key for them to have this information in order to better implement human rights and hold countries and/or people accountable about violations they have committed. Much of the data is not accessible or, when it is, is really difficult to find and thus reduces the interest of the NGOs.
Mr. KIRCHMEIER talks about the UN General Assembly’s project to strengthen their treaty body system and explains the contribution of the Geneva Academy for that matter. He then focalizes on Asia saying that there should be a stronger focus in that continent because of their lack of a regional mechanism. He also adds that the several treaty bodies systems don’t have the same views on similar subjects or have contradictory information, which leads to a confusion for the people consulting their data.
The first key to solve this problem is visibility: most of the information is not even visible to the public. Furthermore, it is too expensive for some people to travel to Geneva in order to keep up with the human rights developments. A solution for that could be special registering or video conferencing during the important meetings.
Ms. HICKS agrees on the fact that the accessibility of human rights information is essential, especially because it can create synergies that will facilitate comparisons between the conclusions given in different sessions as well as their development. Human rights documentation can also be useful for prevention. If we understand what is happening better, we can easily avoid more violations. We can learn from each other in terms of what solutions are more successful. The problem is that finding the founding to make the information more accessible is difficult to organize. Another problem is confidentiality. It is not unsolvable, but we need to think about how we could share confidential information in a secure way. NGOs have started to meet more and more to talk about this situation and efforts are being made.
We can conclude from this meeting that everyone agrees on the fact that human rights documentation should really be more accessible to the public. Efforts still have to be made on the matter but there have been some improvements in the last years.
Taline Bodart - Research Assitant for CIPADH