12 Oct 2021

Lieu: Maison de la Paix | Pétale 5 & Online | Zoom

Organisation: Geneva Human Rights Platform

The 2021 Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform will discuss the connectivity between national human rights actors and Geneva-based international mechanisms. A thematic session, co-sponsored by UNEP, FES, CIEL, Earthjustice, Franciscans International, and the Geneva Environment Network, will address the connectivity between national human rights actors and Geneva-based international mechanisms in relation to the protection of the environment.


The programme of the 2021 Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform will highlight different aspects of connectivity between national human rights actors and Geneva-based international mechanisms


Sima Samar, Member of the United Nations Secretary-General’s High-Level Panel on Internal Displacement and former Chairperson of the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission (AIHRC) will deliver the keynote speech.

Plenary Panels and Thematic Sessions

The conference is organized around two plenary panels in the morning – on coordination among national and international actors and on the digital shift – and four parallel thematic sessions in the afternoon. The four thematic sessions will address the connectivity between national human rights actors and Geneva-based international mechanisms in relation to systemic racism, the protection of the environment, the role of cities, and the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on persons with disabilities.

Concluding Session

The concluding plenary will discuss the importance of international roles in raising the profile and showing the situation of small states interacting with the UN human rights system.

Environment and Human Rights

How do national human rights actors address this link and how do they engage with Geneva-based international mechanisms?

Climate change and other environmental crises are negatively affecting the full enjoyment of a broad range of human rights, both civil and political, and economic, social and cultural. Since the adoption of the Paris Agreement, UN Human Rights mechanisms and other human rights actors at various levels have increased their efforts to include human rights considerations in the implementation and monitoring of State commitments under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and other environmental instruments. Today, the fulfillment of the Paris Agreement is notably lagging and the COVID-19 pandemic has reminded the international community of the deep links between a healthy environment, human health and human rights. As the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, recently stated: “To recover better, and prevent future global shocks –including viral pandemics –we must protect the right to a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment” and “as such, human rights must become part of the climate solution” (GANHRI Annual Conference 2020). This statement resounds with the continued efforts by a group of states to move towards global recognition of this right, first by the Human Rights Council, followed by the General Assembly.

In this context, all national human rights actors have a role to play at domestic level, whether by implementing policies to tackle environmental degradation, biodiversity loss or climate change; supporting the integration of human rights in national climate policies; raising awareness among officials and the public and providing technical advice to governments and parliaments. All national human rights actors may also engage at the international level, through platforms for addressing environment related human rights issues and for submitting parallel reports or individual cases to the different regional and UN human rights mechanisms. For these efforts to take hold there must be both political will and adequate understanding of the links between human rights and the environment.

This thematic panel will focus on how different national human rights actors have contributed to a more effective, informed and participatory environmental and climate action, at both national and UN-levels. Ministerial bodies, National Parliaments, NHRIs and CSOs, with their differing mandates and functions, may all play a role in enforcing human rights-based environmental policies, advising national decision-makers and educating the public about the human rights impacts of environmental harms as well as monitoring these impacts. Some actors may also handle complaints and promote accountability, at a national level and through regional and universal human rights mechanisms. All such efforts, if effectively coordinated, may represent of mutual benefit for both human rights and the preservation of the environment.


UNEP, FES, CIEL, Earthjustice, Franciscans International, Geneva Environment Network


  • Millie-Odhiambo-Mabona, Member of the National Assembly of Kenya
  • Benyam Daswit Mezmur, Professor of Law at the University of WesternCape and Member of the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child
  • Michael Windfuhr, Deputy Director, German Institute for Human Rights, GANHRI
  • Adele Metheson Mestad, Director, Norwegian National Human Rights Institution
  • Leon Dulce, National Coordinator, Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment in the Philippines
  • Moderator | Rodrigo Uprimny, Member of the UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Member of the GHRP Advisory Board


You need to register via this Google Form to attend the various sessions of the conference – plenaries and working groups – and indicate, for each session, whether you wish to follow it in Geneva or online.

Please note that due to sanitary measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic, access to the conference’s premises will be limited to those who have a Swiss COVID Certificate; an EU Digital COVID Certificate; or a paper or digital document proving that s.he has been tested negative following a rapid antigen test or a PCR one conducted within 48 hours and 72 hours respectively prior to the start of the event.