Human Rights & Local Government Report

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Human Rights & Local Government Report
18 September 2015
On 22 September 2015, the United Nations Human Rights Council (Geneva) will consider the final Report on the Role of local government in the promotion and protection of human rights. The report is the outcome of a two-year study on the subject by the Human Rights Council Advisory Committee’s and constitutes an important step forward in recognizing how urban and rural administrations operationalize human rights at the local level. The report clarifies two main theoretical points: (1) the application of human rights in local administration is essential to democratic governance and (2) local authorities share the same human rights obligations as central governments, as all spheres of government within a treaty-bound state are equal duty holders under international human rights law. The report’s practical contribution is found in its citation of examples—and some violations—that demonstrate human rights and local government in application, including through policies, practices and corresponding mechanisms. Many contributions of HIC-HLRN are reflected in the final version of the report. It explains the various terms and concepts used over time to convey human rights approaches locally, including “human rights city, “right to the city” and “human rights habitat.” The report cites the range of treaty references and soft-law specificity that addresses a range of human rights obligations at local level. The report and its subsequent outcomes in the UN human rights system should help local authorities translate their international and national human rights obligations into their actual functions. Building on this report, those future developments have yet to clarify three aspects of human rights and local government not covered in the HRCAC report: (1) the important difference between the terms and functions of “local authorities” as distinct from “local government”; (2) an alternative to the hierarchical approach to the various spheres of public administration that portrays local government as the “lowest level”; and (3) the relevant extraterritorial human rights obligations of local authorities, including local government, under both human rights treaty law and related peremptory norms. For clarification of these points, see: Extraterritorial Human Rights Obligations of Local Government HIC Comments to the HRC-AC Local government and human rights draft report HIC response to HRC-AC Local government and human rights questionnaire Download HRC-AC final report Local government and human rights, A/HRC/30/49 [الحكومة المحلية في حماية وتعزيز حقوق الانسان، A/HRC/30/49]

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