States are not alone in their commitment to human rights

A landmark seminar on National Mechanisms for Implementation, Reporting, and Follow-up (NMIRF) in the field of human rights (held in accordance with resolution 51/33, adopted by the UN Human Rights Council in 2022), was organized by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), with the support of Paraguay, Brazil, and other States and experts.

The Geneva Cities Hub (GCH) made a call for enhanced participation of Local and Regional Governments (LRGs) in these national mechanisms which have significantly developed over the years in several States, matching enhanced state coordination and implementation in the realm of human rights and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The increasing number of NMIRFs across the world signifies the States’ commitment to fulfilling their obligations, primarily those arising from the UPR, but also from other UN human rights mechanisms. States are not alone in engaging on human rights. LRGs echo this commitment, sometimes championing more progressive practices than their State counterparts. However, to maximize their effectiveness, LRGs require dialogue, exchange, and often funding from their central government.

In order to ensure effective State action on human rights implementation in areas such as housing, air pollution, mobility, social inclusion, education, health, and even plastic pollution – a threat some argue is even more immediate to life on earth than climate change-, they need to fully engage with local authorities. Thus, incorporating LRGs into the NMIRF framework is a strategic move. The involvement of all levels of governments in a given country is a win-win situation for both States and LRGs in terms of human rights implementation.

The GCH believes that States will benefit from involving their LRGs in all implementation-related processes, seeking their consultation, opinion, and advice before and after accepting a UPR recommendation. Collective reflection on concrete implementation strategies will only help States in their endeavours.

Italy has set a commendable example by including local governments in their NMIRF, a move echoed by other States in the seminar. Expert member, Nicole Ameline from the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) also highlighted her committee’s interest in collaborating with LRGs.

In conclusion, the Geneva Cities Hub is poised to collaborate with States, NGOs, and the UN system to facilitate the inclusion of LRGs in NMIRFs. As stated by the GCH, this will result in a triple win: for states, who will gain deeper insights into human rights implementation; for LRGs, who will strengthen dialogue with states; and for the society as a whole.

Photo credit: UN Photo / Jean Marc Ferré

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