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OHCHR - Cooperation between the United Nations and regional mechanisms for the promotion and protection of human rights

The United Nations (UN) recognizes the significant role played by regional and subregional human rights arrangements in the promotion and protection of human rights. The Vienna Declaration and Programme of Action, adopted by the World Conference on Human Rights in 1993, endorsed efforts to establish, strengthen and increase the effectiveness of these arrangements while at the same time stressed the importance of their cooperation with the UN human rights system. This has been reconfirmed by the UN General Assembly in several of its resolutions requesting the Secretary-General to continue to strengthen the exchanges between the UN and regional intergovernmental organizations dealing with human rights (A/RES/32/127 and A/RES/63/170).

In 1993, the then Commission on Human Rights adopted the first of a number of resolutions on the subject, which inter alia requested the Secretary-General to continue to strengthen exchanges between the UN and regional intergovernmental organizations dealing with human rights and invited the treaty bodies to explore ways to increase the exchange of information and cooperation with RHRMs CHR Resolution 1993/51 . The UN Human Rights Council (HRC) has reiterated this through a number of resolutions which have requested the Office of the UN High Commissioner of Human Rights (OHCHR) to bring together regional and UN human rights mechanisms to exchange views on good practices and lessons learned with a view to enhancing cooperation between them. (HRC resolutions A/HRC/RES/6/20 of 2007 ; A/HRC/RES/12/15 of 2009, A/HRC/RES/18/14 of 29 September 2011 and A/HRC/RES/24/19 of 8 October 2013.)

Consequently, the OHCHR held three biennial workshops in November 2008, May 2010 and December 2012 with the participation of UN experts from the human rights treaty bodies and the HRC special procedures; representatives of regional human rights mechanisms in Africa, Europe, the Americas, the Middle East and ASEAN; as well as National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs). The workshops have focussed on various themes including : 1) Good practices, added value and challenges’ for RHRMs (2008); 2) Strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements to overcome obstacles to human rights promotion and protection at the regional (2010); 3) strengthening cooperation on information-sharing, joint activities and follow-up to recommendations from United Nations and regional human rights mechanisms with special focus on prevention of torture, women’s rights and children’s rights (2012).

During the workshop held in 2012, participants recognized the need to continue holding the biennial workshops and made 11 recommendations to State, the UN and Regional Human Rights Mechanism and 2 recommendations to other stakeholders in particular NHRIs and NGOs. The workshop recognized the need to strengthen cooperation between UN and regional human rights mechanisms through various cooperation mechanisms including establishment of focal points, systemized information sharing, cross-referencing of jurisprudence and recommendations of human rights mechanisms, replication of best practices and enhanced cooperation between UN and regional human rights mechanisms and other relevant stakeholders including national actors such as NHRIs and NGOs.

OHCHR presented a report on the conclusions and recommendations of this workshop to the 23rd session of the HRC (A/HRC/23/18) and subsequently, the HRC requested OHCHR to hold another workshop in 2014 to take stock of developments since the workshop in 2012. The HRC also requested OHCHR to include 3 thematic discussions on (a) the mainstreaming of economic, social and cultural rights; (b) the economic, social and cultural rights of persons with disabilities; and (c) the economic, social and cultural rights of women, based on concrete and practical experience of regional mechanisms in order to share information on best practices, lessons learned and new possible forms of cooperation (A/HRC/RES/24/19).

2014 Workshop: Geneva, 8 and 9 October 2014: