This Wilton Park roundtable provides an opportunity to explore the nexus between human rights, and peace and security – two critical pillars of the United Nations. The event will provide an off the record space to discuss practical ways in which to bring human rights into the heart of the security framework, with an emphasis on conflict prevention. This invitation only expert roundtable is being developed in partnership with the Federal Department of Foreign Affairs of Switzerland and the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland.
Context and key policy issues
“Perhaps the best prevention tool we have is the Universal Declaration of Human Rights – and the treaties that derive from it. The rights set out in it identify many of the root causes of conflict, but equally they provide real world solutions through real change on the ground.” These words from Secretary-General António Guterres (Human Rights Council 2017) describe the important link between the UN frameworks supporting human rights on the one hand and peace and security on the other.
The 15th conference in the annual human rights series, will focus on the nexus between these two pillars of the United Nations. Within its scope, the conference will address the interlinkage between human rights and the security framework from the perspectives of policy-makers and practitioners.
In particular, the meeting seeks to build on the Government of Switzerland’s 13th June Appeal, placing human rights at the heart of conflict prevention. The Appeal, which was supported by 71 states, calls for the Human Rights Council to play a more prominent role in conflict prevention, involving itself at every stage of the prevention continuum. The conference will also build on the recent call for Member States to enhance exchanges and communications between the Human Rights Council and the rest of the UN system, and thereby bridging the gap between different entities of the UN.
The conference will also follow current developments, including the increasing emphasis on the role of human rights in the context of resilience and the subsequent importance of embedding human rights further into the security framework. During the 73rd Session of the UN General Assembly in 2018 the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, echoed these sentiments stating, “Human rights are the interlocking elements that build resilient and confident societies.” As the discourse on security expands to incorporate additional elements and issues related to human life, resilience has the potential to construct a new security paradigm, locating human rights firmly within its remit.