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Workshop on parliamentary engagement on human rights: Identifying good practices and new opportunities for action


Video statement by Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights

24 June 2019

I would like to warmly welcome you to this joint OHCHR-IPU workshop. And please allow me to say how impressed I am by the work that some of you are doing.

Parliaments lay the foundation for the rule of law and its institutions. As such, they can be the cornerstones of national systems for human rights protection.

In every region of the world, Parliamentary Committees are strongly engaged in building active national human rights bodies, drawing up national action plans, and following up and acting on recommendations – including in the context of UPR reviews.

There are many cases of parliamentary human rights committees actively engaging in and following up on the output of international human rights mechanisms, including the UPR. This is done through drawing up new laws, reforming others, preparing reports and actively scrutinising the work of the executive, as well as involvement in national mechanisms for reporting and follow up, in order to uphold human rights and further the goals of peace and sustainable development.

Today, I hope you will have time to look at those examples, and the benefit they have brought to millions of people. They have helped to build more respectful societies; more inclusive and sustainable development; and greater safety.

The role of parliaments in promoting human rights can be further enhanced. I encourage all the members of this workshop to consider how you can promote more proactive engagement with international and regional human rights mechanisms.

Members of Parliaments are on the frontline of implementation of human rights, close to the needs and the voices of your communities. Building strong partnerships with civil society groups will foster trust, raise awareness, and take action to improve the well-being of everyone.

In line with Human Rights Council Resolution 35/29, my Office has prepared a report which outlines current practices of engagement by parliamentary human rights committees with the UPR process. Among other points, it emphasises that more than 50% of recommendations from the human rights mechanisms require the active involvement of Parliaments in order to be implemented – and this includes many UPR recommendations which have been accepted by the State.

The report also includes draft Principles which give practical guidance on the most effective forms of organisation and functioning of such parliamentary committees, taking into account their different jurisdictions.

I encourage you to use these draft Principles to enhance your engagement with the UN human rights system.

In close cooperation with the IPU, my Office can assist in establishing or strengthening parliamentary human rights committees. We look forward to deepening our relationships with you and our support for your work to promote the human rights of all your constituents.

Thank you.