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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 regional human rights mechanisms (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 2011 and A/HRC/RES/24/19 of 2013.)
Since then, UN Human Rights has held a series of workshops to examine how the UN and regional mechanisms can work more closely and effectively together.
Following Human Rights Council Resolution 43/17, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights organized a workshop on regional arrangements for the promotion and protection of human rights, on 18 and 19 October 2022. Participants took stock of the implementation of recommendations made at the 2019 workshop, including lessons learned and challenges encountered during that process. A thematic discussion was held on the role of regional arrangements in the field of Business and Human Rights. The High Commissioner will present the report of this workshop to the 52nd session of the Human Rights Council in March 2023.
Participants at the workshop included Heads/representatives of the Court of Justice of the Economic Community of West African States, the East African Court of Justice, the African Court on Human and Peoples’ Rights, the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, the Caribbean Court of Justice, the Council of Europe, the European Commissioner for Human Rights, the Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the Permanent Arab Human Rights Committee, the Independent Permanent Human Rights Commission of Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, experts of the United Nations working group on BHRs, special procedures of the Human Rights Council, representatives of Member States, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and NGOs.
The OHCHR held biennial workshops, as follows:
November 2008: “Good practices, added value and challenges’ for regional human rights mechanisms”;
May 2010: “Strengthening cooperation between the United Nations and regional arrangements to overcome obstacles to human rights promotion and protection at the regional level”;
December 2012: “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” (see report A/HRC/23/18).
October 2014: “Enhancing cooperation between United Nations and regional human rights mechanisms” (see report A/HRC/28/31).
October 2016: “Cooperation among the United Nations, regional human rights mechanisms, civil society organizations and human rights defenders” (see report A/HRC/34/23).
October 2019: “Combating racism, racial discrimination, xenophobia and related intolerance; and in the implementation of the Durban Declaration and Program of Action” (see report A/HRC/43/32)
Entitled “A journey to strengthened cooperation between the international and regional human rights mechanisms: implementation of the CRPD and SDGs”, it took place on the margins of the 10th Conference of States Parties to the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (June 2017).