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Local governments promoting and protecting human rights: Towards a "Human Rights Cities" movement

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

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, migration, housing or culture… Even though focus topics might differ, human rights cities tend to share a similar commitment: Putting human rights and participatory democracy at the core of local governance.

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WHAT WE DO

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Promoting regional and international charters for the safeguarding of human rights in the city

Our Committee promotes the adoption of the European Charter for 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 the local implementation of human rights in the city. In addition, the Committee has also supported its members’ commitments towards the Asia Human Rights Charter, and took an active role in the definition and promotion of the Gwangju Guiding Principles for a Human Rights City.

Facilitating international advocacy and relations with the United Nations Human Rights system

On the basis of members' initiative, our Committee has become a sound platform for carrying out 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 have focused on the process opened by the Human Rights Council after the report “A/HRC/30/49". New spaces of recognition have already been achieved 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 initiatives on human rights, as well as to advance political discussions nourishing the twenty-years-old global human rights cities movement. The Committee is also a co-organizer of the World Human Rights Cities Forums: the main meeting point for the human rights cities movement hosted annually by our co-chair city of Gwangju.

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

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