Human rights begin close to home
As member of the Coalition for LRGs in UPR, UPR Info co-sponsored the first side event by Geneva Cities Hub (GCH) to foster the engagement of Local and Regional Governments (LRGs) in the UPR Process on 15 November 2022.
The side-event held in the margins of the 41st UPR Working Group session, provided a space to exchange good practices on how mayors can better support the implementation of UPR recommendations and contribute to the protection of human rights at local level.
“Where, after all, do universal human rights begin? In small places, close to home—so close and so small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world. Yet they are the world of the individual person; the neighborhood one lives in; the school or college one attends; the factory, farm, or office where one works. Such are the places where every man, woman, and child seek equal justice, equal opportunity, equal dignity without discrimination. Unless these rights have meaning there, they have little meaning anywhere. Without concerted citizen action to uphold them close to home, we shall look in vain for progress in the larger world”.
By quoting Eleanor Roosevelt, Gianni Magazzeni, the Chief of the UPR branch of the OHCHR, highlighted the importance of engaging the mayors in the UPR process to bring human rights recommendations closer to the people. Given their position, mayors cover a wide range of tasks related to working on all human rights and with all groups of citizens. LRGs, including mayors, can assist their national government to take position on recommendations received according to the realities at local level; States can invite LRGs in the national consultations prior to the drafting process of national reports. These are just a few inputs shared by the Chief of the UPR Branch during the event side. These actions will ensure a greater ownership of LRG’s when developing public policies to implement accepted recommendations
During the event, precious contributions were made by the mayors that were invited to share how human rights were implemented on the ground. The mayor of Ercolano, a city near Naples in Italy, shared with the audience the story of his city, and how the local authorities fought organized crime and corruption to restore security, freedom, and invest in culture, education and tourism. “To ensure freedom and security we must continue to invest in culture, because education is the most powerful weapon we have at our disposal to improve the quality of life in our territories,” said the mayor of Ercolano.
GCH and the Coalition for LRGs in UPR will continue to organize side events on the margins of the UPR Working Group sessions. As highlighted by Kamelia Kemileva, Co-Director of GCH, mayors are well positioned to implement human rights as they are closer to the population, but they need guidance and resources from their central government to undertake this task.