From Intentions to Commitments: Towards the Effective and Sustainable Implementation of Human Rights

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From February 1 to 8 2022, the Second Edition of the Annual Academy and Conference “Human Rights Go Local – What Works” took place on our human rights go local online platform. The Academy and Conference Series aims at demonstrating and synthesising innovative approaches and proven practices for protecting and promoting human rights at the local level, with the goal of making cities and human settlements more inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable. This year’s Academy was titled From Intentions to Commitments: Towards the Effective and Sustainable Implementation of Human Rights“. It brought together representatives of international organisations, local authorities, human rights practitioners from all relevant fields, and members of the next generation. Together, they elaborated on the question: “Which practices truly help local governments to strengthen their commitment to human rights?” The Academy 2022 builds on the success and content of last year’s Academy.

In total, 70 human rights experts from around the globe participated in the Academy, sharing their valuable insights and experiences concerning the drivers and actors of local human rights commitments, the local development of commitment, and the steps that must be taken in the future to achieve true responsibility for human rights. Special emphasis was placed on the voices and perspectives of the next generation, who enjoyed an informal networking session. During this session, several human rights professions were introduced to young participants and highlighted as a crucial means towards advancing human rights locally.

The event also introduced and expanded on Jasmien Deklerck’s brand new publication “From Commitment to Responsibility for Human Rights in Cities and Regions”. It is in fact the third volume in the series “Human Rights Go Local, jointly edited by the UNESCO Chair on Human Rights and Human Security and the UNESCO Category 2 Centre for the Promotion of Human Rights at Local Level. With contributions from 22 actors from around the world, this third volume examines how cities, in particular human rights cities, can move from supporting human rights principles and values in an abstract way to fully guaranteeing their inhabitants’ human rights.

The expertise and best practices gathered during the Academy’s discussions are compiled and published in the Academy’s Outcome Document. As last year, the document is a collection of encouragements made by the Academy’s participants to local governments. This year’s Outcome Document includes 14 encouragements for action to local authorities. Further, they can be used as a blueprint to effectively and sustainably foster human rights commitments at the local level in line with the UN’s goal of “leaving no one behind”. Explanatory Remarks for each encouragement will be added, highlighting relevant case studies, best practices, and additional resources shared by the Academy’s participants.

100% of participants said they would use the knowledge offered during the Academy in their daily work. Participants praised the diversity of regions, governance levels, and activities. Further, they stated that hearing about global best practices was encouraging. 90% of attendees liked the Academy’s blend of plenary and interactive sessions, saying it encouraged open dialogue and helped bring human rights to local communities.

At the end of five intensive Academy working days, the closing Conference took place on February 8. A total of 400 online guests from 55 countries attended this event. They witnessed the presentation and discussion of the Outcome Document with representatives from international organisations and local governments. Gabriela Ramos, UNESCO’s ADG for Social and Human Sciences, held a keynote speech on the importance of local level human rights activities. The following discussion of the Outcome Document was attended by Todd Howland (OHCHR), Rafael Tuts (UN-Habitat), Ioannis Dimitrakopoulos (FRA), Macoura Coulibaly Dao (President of REFELA), Fernanda Gil Lozano (International Center for the Promotion of Human Rights, Buenos Aires, Argentina), Gyonggu Shin (Human Rights Policy Advisor, Gwangju, South Korea) and Elke Kahr (Mayor of Graz, Austria). The basis for the discussion was provided by the Austrian theatre group InterACT. The members developed theatrical illustrations of the Outcome Document, depicting common challenges encountered by local governments and solutions based on the Academy’s Outcome Document.

You can re-watch the Conference here:

The video is also available in French and German.

You can find further downloadable material on the Academy and Conference 2022 here:

The Academy and Conference are organised by the International Centre for the Promotion of Human Rights at the Local and Regional Levels under the auspices of UNESCO and the UNESCO Chair in Human Rights and Human Security in Graz, Austria, together with the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), UN-Habitat, the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA), the Austrian Federal Ministry of European and International Affairs, the Federal Province of Styria, and the City of Graz. Human Rights Go Local is powered and supported by Paragraph-Software GmbH.