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On the Ground in Geneva: International Advocacy for Local Change

April 12, 2023

The Advocates for Human Rights returned to the United Nations in Geneva in March for two very full weeks of human rights advocacy. Staff were joined by eleven volunteers, including three Board members. The team worked side-by-side with human rights defenders from Ditshwanelo - The Botswana Centre for Human Rights (Botswana), Autonomous Women's House Zagreb (Croatia), Kenyan section of the International Commission of Jurists (Kenya), SOS Hotline Nikšic (Montenegro), and Greater Caribbean for Life (Trinidad & Tobago).  

The team hit the ground running at the UN's Palais des Nations, meeting with Human Rights Council delegates about death penalty issues and violence against women. Volunteers and partners made twelve oral interventions at the Human Rights Council and UN treaty bodies. These oral statements highlighted information from our fact-finding on Ukraine and amplified the voices of our asylum clients about the human rights abuses they experienced in Rwanda, South Sudan, and Panama.  

UN advocacy has played a key role in building global momentum for death penalty abolition by shining a light on the human rights violations attendant with executions. The Advocates' Parallel Event: The Death Penalty in UPR 43briefedHuman Rights Council delegates and staff with on-the-ground conditions in the Bahamas, Barbados, Botswana, Israel, Kenya, Mali, Tonga, and United Arab Emirates.   

The team briefed independent experts on the Human Rights Committee, Committee on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights, and Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The team also held productive meetings with numerous UN Special Procedures mandates, including the Special Rapporteur on human rights defenders and the Working Group on discrimination against women. 

International advocacy can be a powerful tool to improve human rights conditions at the local level.We've seen some great results from thisadvocacy in the past, with laws changed to better protect women from violence and concrete steps towards death penalty abolition. We look forward to seeing the impact of our March advocacy work in the coming months.