Human rights as a tool for crisis prevention and early warning

Human rights as a tool for crisis prevention and early warning

With conflicts reaching their highest levels in nearly 80 years, the world cannot afford more turmoil. In too many corners of the world people lose lives and homes, face injustice and inequality. Suffering can stop and sustainable peace can be achieved when prevention is grounded in human rights principles, said the participants of UNDP’s Annual Meeting on Rule of Law and Human Rights. 

Over 200 participants joined in Washington DC and online to reflect on Human Rights Risks: Prevention and Response in Action, including the speakers from the African Union Commission, Japan, the State of Palestine, Ukraine, the United States of America, as well as from UN agencies, academia and civil society, 

When national human rights actors are strong and equipped with evidence, human rights can serve as a tool for crisis prevention and early warning.

“Human rights are a bedrock of peace, security and development. Investment in human rights, especially amidst crisis, translates into a faster recovery. It means that people who lost their loved ones or their homes, can get closure and rebuild their lives. UNDP is engaging partners to restore dignity, justice and humanity,” said Shoko Noda, Assistant Secretary General and Director of UNDP’s Crisis Bureau.

Universal human rights should be a given; however, in many parts of the world, they are not and need to be proactively promoted and incentivised. All parties to the conflicts need to respect and abide by human rights principles and humanitarian law. And be accountable, if they are not. 

The meeting spotlighted the essential role of national human rights institutions (NHRIs) in fostering a culture of human rights. Their monitoring, reporting and investigating human rights abuses – critical during times of conflict – can reduce the likelihood of egregious state offenses, including torture. 

Human rights are, by design, a conflict-prevention tool. Societies where human rights are respected are better equipped to handle tensions. Data obtained through human rights monitoring serves as an early warning system. An important question is what we do about it and how we act,” – said Ilze Brands-Kehris, Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the New York Office of OHCHR. 

The private sector and businesses can influence the dynamics of conflict and peace. Businesses operating in conflict zones must address the unique human rights challenges with heightened due diligence processes.

Effective prevention and response to human rights risks require strong partnerships. UNDP’s Global Programme for Strengthening the Rule of Law, Human Rights, Justice and Security for Sustainable Peace and Development is a vehicle for partnerships on human rights, people-centred justice and security. 

At the meeting, the Global Programme’s annual report was presented, showcasing UNDP’s impact in over 100 countries globally, with a focus on crisis and conflict contexts. 

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