The Geneva Human Rights Platform Celebrates its Fifth Anniversary

19 August 2022

The flags of the Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) are flying on the Mont-Blanc Bridge during this entire week to mark the platform's fifth anniversary.

Launched back in 2017, the GHRP has become a major actor in the Geneva human rights scene.

‘The GHRP managed to become a key reference for discussions, exchanges and the finding of solutions related to the work of the Geneva-based human rights mechanisms. We are proud of this flagship project of the Geneva Academy’ explains Professor Gloria Gaggioli, Director of the Geneva Academy.

‘Ensuring proper implementation of human rights rules and international recommendations requires connecting relevant stakeholders at the international and national levels. This is exactly what the GHRP does: it fosters connectivity, efficiency, and innovation and thus contributes to improving the implementation of international human rights law’ she adds.

‘Our many activities allow various actors – United Nations (UN) human rights mechanisms, NGOs, experts and practitioners – to come together and find solutions to pressing human rights challenges – be they related to the work of UN human rights mechanisms or to specific issues’ says Felix Kirchmeier, Executive Director of the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

‘This would not have been possible without the support of the Swiss government, of our various partners, our home institutions, and the dedication of our staff and advisory board’ he adds.

Devising Concrete Solutions to Improve the Work of UN Human Rights Mechanisms

From devising concrete proposals to improve the work of UN treaty bodies (TBs) to the testing of pilot-focused reviews on the ground or the organization of closed meetings to exchange around specific issues, the GHRP is supporting UN TBs to fulfill their mandate.

‘It is key for us to ensure that UN TBs can continue their crucial work for the promotion and protection of human rights at the national level. Accompanying them on their reform path or to address specific issues in collaboration with others is therefore crucial for us’ says Felix Kirchmeier.

‘With this in mind, we notably created for all UN human rights experts an online community of practice to link them up in a more efficient, informal way’ he adds.

Besides its support to UN TBs, the GHRP also started to work with the UN Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council to address crosscutting issues and evaluate their impact.

To transfer the academic input and expert discussion into political decision-making, the GHRP boosts various formats of private and public events, aiming at the international community of decision-makers, diplomats and UN officials.

The New Training Hub: Building Capacity to Better Use UN Human Rights Mechanisms

The newly created training hub aims at building the capacity of national actors to better use existing UN human rights mechanisms via customized training courses and dedicated training on specific issues like the protection of the environment or the Universal Periodic Review process.

‘This is the other side of the coin: implementation at the national level also depends on the capacity of national actors to use UN human rights mechanisms to bring change and ensure accountability for human rights violations’ explains Felix Kirchmeier.

Key Facts and Figures over the Last Five Years

Over 150 public events, including official side events at the UN in Geneva, and New York and in regional hubs like Addis Ababa, New Delhi and Nairobi.

Over 60 closed events for UN treaty bodies

10 Initiatives around the work of UN human rights mechanisms and implementation at the national level

20 Training courses

16 Publications and more than 30 background documents informing negotiations and discussions

Over 50 partnerships established with NGOs, academic institutions and UN entities.

Folder of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

Impact

While it is always difficult to measure and concretely attribute impact, an important number of our recommendations are being picked up and implemented at the international level by the mechanisms we work with.

Sustained contact with the alumni of our training courses also shows encouraging results, in terms of enhanced engagement with the UN human rights system. Former participants make submissions to TBs and the UPR, and actively engage with these bodies during the reviews of their countries and in the subsequent implementation of the recommendations on the ground.

‘We are also delighted by the continued outreach and request by the many actors of the system to benefit from our services and support’ says Domenico Zipoli, Project Coordinator at the Geneva Human Rights Platform.

What’s Next

On 2022 October, the GHRP will hold its 2022 Annual Conference that will focus on digital connectivity in the field of human rights – a topic that will stay high on the agenda of the GHRP for the coming years.

‘Our annual conference allows us to address and discuss current human rights challenges, bring relevant actors around the table and devise concrete solutions’ explains Dr Domenico Zipoli.

‘In the longer run, we will extend the scope of our activities to all the Geneva-based human rights mechanisms, thus working more on the UN Human Rights Council and with the experts of its sub-organs’ adds Felix Kirchmeier.

The first step in this direction is our cooperation with OHCHR, UPR Info, the Geneva Cities Hub and the Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation which looks at innovative ways to reinvigorate the political dynamics around the fourth cycle of the UPR, attracting new stakeholders – local governments - into the process.

‘We will also continue to explore the connectivity of the international and regional human rights systems with actors at the national level in order to enhance implementation and accountability. Our focus will always be on the question of how the international mechanisms have to evolve to deliver most effectively’ underlines Felix Kirchmeier.

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