Human Rights Year 2016 – Adrien-Claude ZOLLER

Human Rights Year 2016 – Foreword Annual Report 2016

2016 marked some major human rights milestones, including the 50th anniversary of the two International Covenants –on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, and on Civil and Political Rights, the 10th anniversary of the creation of the UN Human Rights Council, and the extension of the mandates of several other UN procedures dedicated to human rights.

However despite the many important human rights principles, declarations, and conventions adopted by the UN and other inter-governmental organizations (such as the International Labour Organisation and UNESCO), and despite many useful monitoring mechanisms and procedures, the international human rights system still has a major weakness: a lack of effective implementation. There are still significant gaps between UN standards and the realities on the ground, between UN decisions and their follow-up. It is time for a significant increase in implementation activities. And we all know that this must be done at the country-level itself. This is why we must continue to work on projects to better develop national capacities.  This is why Geneva for Human Rights continues to focus on training and outreach in its activities.

The human rights movement achieved some key successes in 2016, such as the Human Rights Council’s new mandate on the discrimination against sexual minorities, and the General Assembly’s decision to create a special team to begin collecting, analyzing and preserving evidence of war crimes committed in Syria.

But 2016 was not a better year for victims, witnesses, human rights organizations and defenders in the field. They continued to work under very difficult conditions. As never before civil society organisations have been harassed and repressed. They need our help more than ever. It is a call for more effective implementation of the international standards that were designed to protect their human rights.

January 2017

Adrien-Claude Zoller, President