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Local governments promoting and protecting human rights: Global Human Rights Cities movement

Our Committee welcomes local governments from across the world as an open forum where to exchange knowledge on local human rights policies and to promote human rights cities alliances at a global scale. Non-discrimination, peace and historical memory, gender equality, education, participation, migration, housing or culture… Even though focus topics might differ from one city to another, human rights cities tend to share a similar commitment to put human rights and participation at the core of local governance.

Often perceived in their global dimension, human rights challenges also have a strong impact at the local level. In embracing the human rights-based approach, local authorities find relevant answers to improve citizens' living conditions and realize the concept of full citizenship. Well consolidated in local policymaking, human rights cities cannot be disconnected from their global component either. Throughout the last twenty years, human rights municipalism has showed its capacity to promote human rights in an increasingly urbanized world.

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Promoting regional and international charters for human rights in the city

Our Committee promotes the adoption of two different charters for human rights in the city: The European Charter for the Safeguarding of Human Rights in the City and the Global Charter-Agenda for Human Rights in the City. Both documents spring from different processes yet share a similar reasoning: offering concrete guidelines for local governments interested in promoting and protecting human rights in the city. In addition to these two Charters, the Committee has also supported its members’ commitments towards the Asia Human Rights Charter, and took an active part in the definition and further promotion of the Gwangju Guiding Principles for a Human Rights City.

Facilitating international advocacy and relations with the UN Human Rights system

On the basis of its members' initiative, the Committee has become a sound platform for carrying out international advocacy. The main goal in the process has been to advance the recognition of local governments role in the promotion and the protection of human rights. Advocacy efforts in this regard have been channeled through the process opened by the Human Rights Council after the 2015 report “A/HRC/30/49". New spaces of recognition and dialogue have already been opened thanks to local governments collective action.

Organizing international meetings of human rights cities and the World Human Rights Cities Forum of Gwangju

Our Committee supports local governments that wish to host a meeting of human rights cities. These meetings offer the possibility to showcase innovative city initiatives on human rights, as well as to advance political discussions nourishing the twenty-years-old global human rights cities movement. The Committee has also been involved in the organization of World Human Rights Cities Forums: an annual meeting point for the human rights cities movement hosted by our co-chair city of Gwangju.

Facilitating a monitoring programme on human rights policies at the local level

Local governments are able to assess the situation of human rights in their city through a monitoring programme facilitated by our Committee. A pilot initiative was launched in Bogotá in 2016, resulting in the publication of “The Rights approach through the Bogotá Humana development plan”. The monitoring programme facilitated by our Committee might allow a city to work with academia, raise awareness on its local initiatives, and bolster its commitment towards documents such as the Global Charter-Agenda for Human Rights in the City.