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UN General Assembly Side Event on Parliaments and Human Rights, co-sponsored by AHRC

Date: 14/10/2019

A side event at the UN General Assembly in New York on Increasing Parliaments’ Engagement with Human Rights takes place today. 

The side event has been co-organized by the AHRC-funded Parliaments, Rule of Law and Human Rights research project led by Murray Hunt, Director of the Bingham Centre for the Rule of Law and Visiting Professor of Law at the University of Oxford, and the PI on the project. 

The AHRC has funded the project since its inception in 2011 and the side event is the latest stage in the achievement of one of the project’s central objectives: the adoption of some internationally agreed Principles on Parliaments and Human Rights.  The aim is to help parliaments throughout the world strengthen their capacity to take a more active role in discussing, debating and giving practical effect to human rights commitments.

The side event builds on earlier AHRC-funded research, including a high level international conference in Westminster in 2015 on the Role of Parliaments in the Protection and Realisation of the Rule of Law and Human Rights, and several publications by the research project.  Full details can be found on the project’s website.

The side event, which will be attended by approximately 75 UN delegates and NGOs, is co-organized with the UN Office of the High Commissioner and Universal Rights Group. Reflecting the breadth of international support for parliamentary engagement with human rights, the side event has been co-sponsored by nine permanent missions to the UN: Chile, Ecuador, Georgia, the Maldives, Morocco, the Philippines, Portugal, Romania and Spain.

Speakers will include the chairperson of Georgia’s parliamentary human rights committee, which has benefited from previous engagement with the research project.

With the United Nations, Inter-Parliamentary Union, Council of Europe, European Union, the Commonwealth, Organisation de la Francophonie and other international and regional organisations taking active steps to increase the role of parliaments in protecting and promoting human rights over the last few years, the side event is intended to introduce UN General Assembly delegates and NGOs to these developments and the work of the research project. The side event will also introduce the UN draft Principles on Parliaments and Human Rights to the General Assembly, which are the product of long-standing recommendations made by the research project. 

Speakers include

  • Andrew Gilmour, UN Assistant Secretary General for Human Rights
  • Gianni Magazzeni, Head of the Universal Periodic Review Branch in the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights
  • Sopio Kiladze, Chairperson of Georgia’s Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights and Civil Integration; and
  • Murray Hunt.

The event will be moderated by H. E. Luis Gallegos Chiriboga, Permanent Representative of Ecuador to the United Nations.

Murray Hunt said: “Democratising the rule of law and human rights is an idea whose time has come.  Increasing the role of elected politicians in protecting the rule of law and human rights can make those protections both more practically effective and more democratically legitimate.  As the world enters a particularly dangerous phase of its history, increasing the strain on these bedrock values, we need more than ever a global framework which will promote more democratic dialogue, deliberation and debate about civilisation’s most fundamental commitments.  This side event is an important step in the process leading to eventual international agreement on some principles and guidelines which could help bring about a step-change in the practical realisation of those universal ideals.”

Professor Andrew Thompson, Executive Chair of the AHRC said: "The role of international organisations as guardians of human rights is well recognised and understood. But national parliaments have an equally vital - if neglected - function to play in ensuring respect for and the realisation of human rights. The AHRC has been proud to have supported the research team throughout this inevitably lengthy process of building the international consensus required to underpin a set of internationally agreed Principles that will assist parliamentarians the world over in fulfilling their important role".

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