Local authorities and partner organizations from around the world have responded to the call for contributions launched by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights for its next report on “Local Government and Human Rights”. This event marks an important breakthrough, as it has highlighted local governments commitment on human rights at both the local and global levels.
It has shown the diversity and the creativity of policies implemented locally to meet contemporary urban challenges and to promote respect for fundamental rights such as the right to housing, access to public services for all or the fight against socio-spatial inequalities and against all forms of discrimination.
The Committee has played an active role in promoting and facilitating local governments’ contributions to this report, in line with its members’ commitment towards an international, local government human rights agenda, and its working relationship with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.
Contributions from the following municipalities and territories have been received by the Committee so far: Utrecht, Barcelona, Graz, Nuremberg, Madrid, Seoul, Vienna, Gipuzkoa, Grigny, the Indonesian local authorities of Wonosobo, Pakpak Bharat, Serdang Bedagai, Jember and Palu via INFID, Montreal, Gwangju, Goicoechea, Naples, São Paulo, Terrassa and the Swedish local governments of Stockholm, Malmö, Hedemora and Klippan via SALAR and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights.
The Committee also shared a contribution of its own with many local practices in its network, mentioning the experience of around 60 local governments, present during last year's activities and events. It has thus given visibility to the practices presented at events such as the World Human Rights Cities Forum of Gwangju or the Barcelona Workshop of “Local Governments for Human Rights” (December 2018). It has particularly aimed at ensuring the representation of the greatest possible territorial diversity.
“The expertise and knowledge of local government officials is an important asset in the provision of public services and the promotion and protection of human rights and fundamental freedoms at the local government level, and in the implementation of the pledge in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to leave no one behind”.
Resolution A/HRC/39/L.8 by the Human Rights Council
Learning from local government contributions to the report
The set of public policies and actions presented shows the meaningful contribution of local governments in developing the rights-based approach from the local level. It also highlights the experience gained by local practitioners in recent years, most often in dialogue and collaboration with civil society.
The various contributions also show that local authorities' fields of action for the protection and promotion of human rights are closely related to each local context and reality. They most often correspond to a desire to respond concretely to local challenges through the implementation of adequate and transformative policies. In this sense, local human rights action is implemented on several levels:
- Towards inhabitants, through the development of dedicated public policies on issues such as social housing or “commons” or “common good” initiatives on areas such as water or energy
- Towards municipal administrations, through the implementation of cross-cutting projects on human rights or training programs for civil servants
- Towards social organizations or private stakeholders, by establishing human rights criteria in public procurement or developing joint endeavors with human rights associations
- Towards civil society, raising ownership and strengthening their capacities through training events, citizen control commissions or awareness-raising campaigns
Organizing a stakeholders’ dialogue on March 8
On March 8, the Committee organized – in partnership with the Permanent Missions of the Republic of Korea and Romania to the Human Rights Council, the OHCHR, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute, the World Human Rights Cities Forum of Gwangju Secretariat and the Asia Development Alliance – a stakeholders’ dialogue regarding the implementation of human rights at the local level. This event was a good opportunity to present local government contributions and to explore the next steps towards next June’s presentation of the Report.
A special emphasis was placed on the Right to the City for Women, after a joint open letter was signed in the framework of the Committee by the mayors of Mexico City, Montreal and Barcelona. This statement recalls the challenges faced by local authorities in order to guarantee respect for fundamental rights in regards to this topic.
A consultation for local authorities should be organized in partnership with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in May. Please contact the Committee if you wish to participate.
Know more about this process:
- Call for contributions on local governments’ initiatives to promote and protect human rights (Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights)
- Latest updates on the process to recognize the role of local government in the promotion and protection of human rights (Human Rights Council)
- Members of the Committee advance dialogue on local governments' role in promoting and protecting human rights with OHCHR’s Deputy High Commissioner