Populism and the threat to international solidarity: report

20 July 2020
Issued by:
The Independent Expert on human rights and international solidarity
At the 75th session of the GA


The Independent Expert identified the threat that populism poses to the principle of international solidarity and its ability to contribute to the realization of human rights as one such thematic priority. He noted the serious threat that the recent rise in populism in far too many parts of the world poses to the enjoyment or realization of the human rights of vulnerable individuals and groups, including migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, persons of African descent, ethnic and religious minorities, women, girls and lesbian, bisexual and transgender women and intersex persons.

The work of the Independent Expert on this topic aligns with the concern of the United Nations as a whole regarding the negative impact on the enjoyment of human rights of a set of developments in our time that the Secretary-General has referred to as “the perverse phenomenon of populism and extremism”.


The report is divided into nine sections:

  1. Introduction
  2. The concept of populism and its meanings and recent rise, yet again, in global politics
  3. The various dimensions of contemporary populist agitation, as well as the question of whether any tangible human rights benefits could ever be derived from such ideologies
  4. The link between populism and the enjoyment or lack thereof of human rights-based international solidarity
  5. The harmful impacts of certain contemporary forms of populism on the enjoyment of international solidarity in the human rights field
  6. Some of the actions already being taken by States and regions in response to the harmful consequences of populism
  7. Norms of international law that could be utilized to combat populism
  8. Concluding thoughts
  9. Recommendations