Local and Regional Governments make their way to the United Nations Human Rights Council

Local and Regional Governments (LRGs) are increasingly included in the work of the UN Human Rights mechanisms as key participants or stakeholders /partners of States, NGOs and UN agencies. Thanks to the work of international agencies and organisations and the growing understanding by States of the importance of including them, three significant resolutions are mentioning the role and the activities of LRGs in relation to SDG implementation and the Agenda 2030. The UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), which is asked to act on or facilitate the implementation of these texts (see below), has an obligation to consult and interact with LRGs worldwide, thereby creating new possibilities to contribute to and shape the impact of the resolutions. In fulfilling its mandate, the OHCHR can conduct direct consultations through publishing a “call for submissions” on its website or through LRGs networks:

  1. Report on the role of public service delivery, by consulting local governments. Under the terms of operative paragraphs 10 and 11 of resolution A/HRC/52/L.6, the Human Rights Council requests:

(…)the OHCHR to prepare a report on the role of public service delivery in the promotion and protection of human rights and in the achievement of the SDGs, including in relation to the protection of persons in vulnerable situations, that reflects best practices, challenges and recommendations in assisting national governments in delivering a transparent, accountable and efficient public service, and to submit the report ; when preparing the above-mentioned report, the OHCHR should seek input among others from local governments, (…)”

  • A panel discussion to be convened in March 2024 on the realisation of economic social and cultural rights, open to local authorities (see operative paragraph 27 of A/HRC/52/L.11 ) Here the Human Rights Council requests :

“…. the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to convene at its fifty-fifth session a panel discussion, accessible to persons with disabilities and open to the participation of States, local authorities, relevant treaty bodies and the special procedures of the Human Rights Council, academia, civil society and other relevant stakeholders, on challenges and good practices to strengthen the fulfilment of the right to social security and for building, financing and implementing public policies and quality public services as key tools for the realization of economic, social and cultural rights;”

  • Three full-day intersessional meetings for dialogue and cooperation on human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (see operative paragraph 1 of A/HRC/52/L.20) Here the Human Rights Council decides to:

“…. organize three full-day intersessional meetings for dialogue and cooperation on human rights and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which will provide a space for States, relevant United Nations and regional human rights mechanisms, United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, national human rights institutions, local and regional governments, and civil society organizations to voluntarily share good practices, achievements, challenges and lessons learned concerning integrated and gender responsive approaches in the promotion and protection of human rights and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda;”

  • Universal Periodic Review of States and LRGs

In addition to the specific requests in resolutions, the Human Rights Council is also encouraging participation of LRGs in the Universal Periodic Review process. In the recently completed round of UPR reviews OHCHR and other UN agencies (such as UN-Habitat) encouraged Tunisia, Ecuador, Finland, India, Philippines, and other countries to include their local and regional governments in their preparation for the Universal Periodic Review. The Geneva Cities Hub, together with UN-Habitat and others  launched the Coalition “Local and Regional Governments in UPR” to support this type of integrated approach.

In conclusion, the Geneva Cities Hub stands ready to help all local and regional governments wanting to cooperate with the UN Human Rights Council and its related mechanisms, including UPR.

If you are a representative of a local or regional government, please contact with your concrete questions regarding your city’s possible participation in the work of the UN Human Rights Council and the Universal Periodic Review.

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