On the second day of Geneva Peace Week, QUNO, Dag Hammarskjold Foundation, Interpeace, the Office of the High Commissioner for HUman Rights (OHCHR), and the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) held an event on ‘Sustaining peace and human rights: Making it work at the country level through engaging UN Special Procedures’.
This event provided several illustrations of how Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council can provide important contributions to sustaining peace. As such, the ability of UN Special Procedures to undertake country visits can contribute to trust building among communities and governments and increase communication of UN experts both formally and informally. These are some of the ways that UN Special Procedures can effectively address upstream prevention as well as during crisis and peacebuilding contexts. This was particularly highighted by Li Fung, Senior Human Rights Advisor to the UN Resident Coordinator in Kenya and Rita Izsák-Ndiaya, Rapporteur of the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.
Clément Nyaletsossi Voule, Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, also highlighted how the right to freedom of assembly, when upheld, provides opportunities for dialogue and addressing grievances peacefully and if restricted and grievances are left unaddressed, this can lead to escalating tensions and conflict. As Clément shares: “through the Special Procedures we can find out what is going on on the ground and ensure what accountability is available for victims. My mandate is at the core of any society that wants to maintain peace and build peace. If people cannot share their grievances then you cannot build sustainable peace.”
Yet, UN Special Procedures are often either unknown or under utilized by many peacebuilding actors as much as the country level as well as through the Peacebuilding Architecture in New York - something that Fabian Salvioli, Special Rapporteur on the promotion of truth, justice, reparation and guarantees of non recurrence particularly regretted as he shared his own experience lacking human rights consideration in transitional justice efforts.
As the event wrapped up, it was clear that increasing awareness and bridging the silos meaningful both between human rights and peacebuilding actors was still very much a work in progress.
If you’re interested in continuing this conversation or engaging on Special Procedures - do get in touch!