A side event of the Human Rights Council addresses the “Local government and human rights agenda”

The event was held on October 1st, and brought together representatives from national delegations to the Human Rights Council, the OHCHR leadership and local governments. It provided a platform to exchange points of view and propose ways forward on the “Local Government and Human Rights” agenda within the UN. The event was attended by representatives of the Core Group on “Local Government and Human Rights” at a Human Rights Council level, including: the Republic of Korea, Chile, Egypt and Romania.

The Ambassador of the Permanent Republic of Korea, Mr. Taeho Lee, argued how one of this group’s key priorities was to continue raising awareness on this topic at a UN level. He celebrated the increasing recognition of local governments’ role in advancing human rights since the adoption of the first Resolution by the Council on this matter back in 2016.

National delegates from Korea, Romania and Egypt took the floor to highlight the added value of local and regional government (LRG) action in advancing human rights. These efforts are aligned with the 2030 Agenda call to leave no one behind: indeed, in times of health and social crisis, LRGs have managed to address people’s needs directly while contributing to recovery in a meaningful way through public service provision, advancing inclusive housing solutions and guaranteeing access to health and education.

National delegates also recognized the importance of fostering partnerships and multi-level cooperation at all levels to strengthen policy innovation and learning between territories.

National UN representatives

The call to leave no one behind was also recognized by OHCHR’s Deputy High Commissioner Nada al-Nashif, who recalled how the pandemic especially affected the most vulnerable and the poorest. LRG policies and leadership have a key role to play in shaping a more inclusive and resilient society after the pandemic, building on the Common Agenda proposed by the UN Secretary General. Better including local government cooperation dynamics and their representing networks, such as UCLG, was deemed essential.

Leading local governments in the movement and our Committee took the floor, including Gwangju, Montevideo and Utrecht. They celebrated the leadership by this Core Group of national delegations at the UN Human Rights Council level, noting how local governments are ready to engage in more meaningful international work and structural cooperation dynamics with the UN on human rights (Gwangju Ambassador Yeocheol Yoon). They celebrated LRGs historical cooperation trends with each other, which allowed them to share knowledge and build networks of solidarity at both global, regional and national levels (Montevideo International Relations Director Fabiana Goyeneche).

They also recalled how LRGs are ready to reinforce their internal coherence and outreach capacity, fostering new local commitments on human rights across and “getting more human rights cities on board” in partnership with global actors such as the OHCHR and UCLG (Utrecht’s International Strategy Officer Hans Sakkers).

City representatives

The coordinator of our Committee, Amanda Fléty, took part in the event’s panel discussion to highlight the central role of this agenda within the human rights cities movement, as it provides a meeting point for local authorities to foster a renewed relationship with the UN human rights system and national delegations to the Council. She noted how further acknowledgment of LRGs role in advancing human rights will allow local authorities to scale up promising initiatives across the world, reaching new regions and more territories.