Irish Centre for Human Rights Play Key Role In Landmark Resolution Adopted On Human Rights

Professor Michael O'Flaherty FRSA / Established Professor of Human Rights Law / Director, Irish Centre for Human Rights / National University of Ireland Galway.
Mar 12 2014 Posted: 08:15 GMT
NUI Galway’s Irish Centre for Human Rights and the Irish Government paves the way for major reform in international structures that oversee the human rights record of UN member-states.

Last month the United Nations General Assembly adopted a landmark resolution on human rights that was built in large part based on the research of Professor Michael O'Flaherty from the Irish Centre for Human Rights at NUI Galway. The ‘Dublin Process’ document sets out to strengthen and enhance the efficiency structures of the UN Human Rights treaty body system.

This resolution marks a defining moment in a treaty body reform process that began in Dublin in 2009 and paves the way for the delivery of enhanced resources to this long-neglected part of the UN human rights system and re-affirms the independence of treaty bodies and their membership.

One such example of upholding human rights in a meaningful way among States and civil societies was the international attention and subsequent Irish Human Rights Commission report published in June 2013, for human rights violations in the Magdalene Laundries and redress for the Magdalene women based on human rights abuses.

The UN human rights oversight mechanism, known as the treaty body system, has been beset with longstanding and deeply ingrained inefficiencies and other impediments to effectiveness, all of which have undermined its capacity to do its job of getting governments to uphold the human rights of their peoples.

Repeated efforts to reform the system had only very limited success and the problems continued to multiply. In response, on the invitation of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Professor O'Flaherty, in 2009, convened an expert group in Dublin to set out a road map for a new reform process that would deliver meaningful results.

There followed a set of consultations around the world that were drawn together in 100 recommendations adopted at a second meeting in 2011, convened in Dublin by Professor Michael O'Flaherty. Those recommendations were then put before the UN General assembly by means of a report submitted to it by the High Commissioner.

The subsequent two-year debate, in which Professor O'Flaherty participated in an expert capacity, was brought to a conclusion with the historic resolution on the 11th February 2014.

Professor O'Flaherty, Director of NUI Galway's Irish Centre for Human Rights, said, "This is a defining moment in a treaty body reform process that got underway in Dublin in 2009. Remarkably, it does so with some success, paving the way for the delivery of enhanced resources to the long neglected sector and re-affirming the independence of the treaty bodies and their membership. The pathway to the adoption of the resolution was also notable, comprising a multi-stakeholder engagement that was exceptional in terms of UN human rights diplomatic practice. The Dublin Process will serve as a template of how other intractable problems of the UN Human rights system can be tackled in an effective way. The Irish government deserves great credit for its steadfast support for the process."

The ‘Dublin Process’ led by Professor O’Flaherty was at the heart of the landmark resolution adopted last month by the UN General Assembly. The process began in Dublin in 2009 and ended two years later in Dublin. The project was supported by the Irish Government, who played an important role alongside the UN General Assembly in bringing paving the way for this resolution of the treaty body system, under the leadership of Professor O’Flaherty. It highlights the impact that the Irish Centre for Human Rights is making and that their University-based work is resulting in a very meaningful strengthening of UN Human Rights.

For more information on the process Professor O'Flaherty discusses it in a recent blog post at:

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