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Human Rights Day 2013: pushing the agenda


By dxw

Since 1950, two years after the adoption by the UN’s General Assembly of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 10 December has been celebrated annually as International Human Rights Day.

Human rights day 2013 marks 20 years since the establishment of the mandate of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Wilton Park has been instrumental this year in advancing key policy issues as a space for innovation, bringing transitional justice, freedom of expression and labour exploitation to the forefront of international dialogue.

UN drives human rights

In September 2013, the UK became the first country to launch a business and human rights action plan, facilitating the implementation of the UN Guiding principles on business and human rights into UK company agendas. In October we ran a conference on Combatting human trafficking: business and human rights that brought the issue of labour exploitation in business supply chains to the table.

With 13 years having passed since the United Nations Security Council Resolution on women, peace and security, we held the conference Women in peacebuilding, reenergising the discussion and asking whether international efforts to integrate women into the peacebuilding process have been successful.

Arab Spring

2013 saw the launch of the Inaugural Jubilee Dialogues, a flagship series of debates bringing together key UK based thinkers to discuss today’s drivers of change in society. The first of this series in March focused on the Arab Spring two years on. With issues such as freedom of expression and anti-corruption on the agenda, this conference took on the challenge of political and economic reform in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), investigating how a UK-MENA partnership can propel long term positive change in the region.

Media and freedom of expression

The Arab Spring brings the significance of social media and the internet into the spotlight – key themes for us this year. Our conference in October dealt with Media and fragile states. With access to independent media identified as a critical component in ensuring a successful development agenda, the conference questioned how media and communication in fragile states relate to government accountability and how the international community can drive the cause.

In line with UK Government priorities on freedom of expression on the internet, we have also hosted conferences on Freedom of expression online and Realising the potential of the internet to deliver global development and prosperity. Protecting human rights on the internet demands action on multiple fronts. The first conference emphasised the need to filter human rights priorities into education, transparency, regulation, regional dialogue and the implementation of internet policy. The second delved into the future of internet governance: How can we use the internet as a platform to spur innovation and economic growth in development?

Justice and freedom of religion

During the year, we have facilitated dialogue addressing the global landscape and roots of human rights abuses through conferences such as Integrating transitional justice, security and development. Highlighting the ability of poverty and inequality to exacerbate tensions, leading to conflict and consequent human rights abuses, this conference underlined the importance of melding global objectives with local realities, putting victims at the centre of transitional justice measures. How religion shapes foreign policy questioned how religion will influence foreign policy trends in the next decade.  We will continue our efforts to address freedom of religion during 2014.

Forthcoming conferences

Addressing implementation gaps: improving cooperation between global and regional human rights mechanisms, the 10th annual human rights conference sponsored by the Norwegian and Swiss Governments to be held in January 2014

Previous related conferences

Combatting human trafficking: Business and human rights

Women in peacebuilding

Arab Spring two years on

Media and fragile states

Freedom of expression online

Realising the potential of the internet to deliver global development and prosperity

Integrating transitional justice, security and development

How religion shapes foreign policy

Freedom of religion