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The future of human rights in a multi-polar world: exploring opportunities for further engagement (WP1515)


In an unpredictable and rapidly changing global environment, the international human rights agenda is becoming increasingly more complex. The diffusion and shift in economic and political power to South and East has brought new dynamics to the discourse, with multiple actors exploring complex trade-offs between national and regional interests and international obligations.

There is strong convergence on the fundamental principles of human rights. However, there are divergent views among both established and rising democracies about ways in which to address current challenges and some of the obstacles which impede the ability to move forward. The current state of flux provides an opportunity to consider new ways in which to consolidate and modernise international consensus around universal human rights norms.

The meeting explored some of the specific themes which could assist in forging convergence around international co-operation, in particular: strengthening civil society, freedom of the internet, tackling corruption and the role of business sectors in human rights.

Policy makers, analysts and opinion formers from relevant international organisations and a range of established and rising democracies met in order to:

  • Take stock of the current international human rights landscape, identifying the challenges and gaps in the existing structures and mechanisms, and discuss the potential of human rights as a vehicle to peacefully regulate new international dynamics and co-ordination.
  • Consider the potential of specific rights-related policy initiatives in order to build common ground among a diverse group of democracies.
  • Explore the wider potential of international and regional mechanisms and institutions, formal and informal, to facilitate closer cooperation in the future.


Why Trump, Brexit And Populism Could Be An Opportunity, Danny Sriskandarajah, Secretary General, CIVICUS: World Alliance for Citizen Participation, The Huffington Post

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