Overview of GANHRI’s engagement at the 48th Session of the Human Rights Council

During the 48th Session of the Human Rights Council (13 September – 8 October 2021) GANHRI contributed to discussions on:

  • Afghanistan, where we reiterated our call for the protection of AIHRC members and staff and the establishment of a strong, independent global monitoring mechanism
  • Climate change and the right to development
  • The recognition of the right to a healthy environment as a universal human right
  • Reprisals against those cooperating with the United Nations

The GANHRI Working Group on older persons also submitted a contribution in response to the report of the Independent Expert on older persons.

Throughout the session, GANHRI’s Geneva-based Head Office also supported individual GANHRI members worldwide engage with the Human Rights Council.

Recognising the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a human right at global level will send a strong message about the need for urgent action.

GANHRI joined the initiative led by a core group of states to formally recognise the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a universal human right. GANHRI called on all states to support the adoption of the proposed resolution. Following the 2020 UN Secretary-General’s Call to Action for Human Rights, which recognises the urgency of achieving sustainable development, a core group of states are presenting at HRC 48 a resolution aimed at formally recognising the right to safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment as a universal human right.

This initiative is also supported by over 1’000 civil society organisations, as well as UN agencies, Special Procedures, and global businesses.

“This recognition will mark an important and much needed milestone. A safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment is essential to the realisation of the right to life, and of all other human rights” said GANHRI Geneva Representative Katharina Rose.

The Human Rights Council adopted the resolution.

As an outcome of the 2020 GANHRI Annual Conference, NHRIs from all regions pledged to work individually and collectively to promote human rights-based climate action in a conference statement that sets out the practical ways that NHRIs will work for climate justice.

In implementing the Conference Statement, GANHRI in partnership with UNEP, UNDP and OHCHR, is supporting member NHRIs from around the world to make progress on promoting human rights-based climate action by providing platforms for exchanging experiences, build capacities and coordinate our collective engagement in various climate change and environment related processes, including the upcoming COP 26.

Commenting on the report of the SR on the right to development and climate change, GANHRI said that NHRIs can also play a key role on holding states to account for their commitments and action under the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) via monitoring and reporting as well as complaint handling when in their legal competence.

In the statement, GANHRI calls on the international community to urgently adopt climate policies that enable the meaningful participation of all members of society in decision-making and guarantee equality of opportunity in access to basic resources, education, health services, food, housing and employment. Particular attention should be paid to indigenous peoples, internally displaces persons, persons with disabilities, children and women in vulnerable situations, which are among groups disproportionately affected by climate change.”

We call on all states and other actors to respect the independence of NHRIs and ensure NHRIs can implement their mandate and functions in a safe and enabling environment, including through cooperation with the United Nations.

During the interactive dialogue with UN Assistant Secretary-General on Human Rights Ilze Brands Kehris, GANHRI Secretary Dr Ali Al-Marri urged States and other actors to respect the independence of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) and ensure they can cooperate with the United Nations without intimidation or reprisals.

The Secretary-General’s report to the Human Rights Council, “documents worrying trends in all regions of acts of reprisals and intimidation against groups and individuals cooperating or wanting to cooperate with the United Nations”, Dr Ali said.

GANHRI expressed particular concern for members and staff of the NHRIs of Guatemala and the Philippines. “We are deeply alarmed that delays by Congress in Guatemala in the disbursement of the PDH’s budget will adversely impact on the capacity of the PDH to carry out its constitutional mandate,” GANHRI said it in its statement.

GANHRI reaffirmed the critical role that the United Nations system, at all times and in particular during crisis, “can receive and act upon the unique information that national level actors can bring to its attention.”

To support this engagement, GANHRI has developed a Global Action Plan to build the capacity of NHRIs to monitor civic space and situations of human rights defenders; support the establishment of national protection mechanisms; and promote positive narratives on the work of human rights defenders.