The FES office in Geneva organizes annual conferences, seminars, workshops and panels.
Please note that participation in all non-public events is by invitation only.
The Right to Housing – a Strategy and Capacity Building Workshop
27 February – 01 March 2018, Geneva, Switzerland
This workshop, organized jointly with the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, is bringing together housing rights advocates from across the world, who are interested in joint strategic advocacy on the right to adequate housing. The meeting aims to discuss global trends and strategize on how civil society can contribute to advancing housing rights norms and to debate strategies for increasing attention given to housing rights violations and for implementation of resolutions, and human rights bodies’ recommendations on housing.
Participation is by invitation only
Assessing Human Rights Impacts of Economic Reform Policies
02 March 2018, Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
In March 2017 the HRC requested the Independent Expert on debt and human rights, Mr. Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, to propose Guiding Principles on Human Rights Impact Assessments for Economic Reform Programmes (Res. 34/3) through consultations with states, IFIs and other stakeholders. This side event to the 37th Human Rights Council session will take the thematic report of the Special Rapporteur as the basis for discussion and will undertake a mapping of existing tools and make some preliminary proposals concerning the content of the Guiding Principles for assessing human rights impacts of austerity and adjustment policies.
2018 Training Course for NHRIs on International Human Rights Mechanisms
08-11 May 2018, Geneva, Switzerland
The training, developed especially for staff of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) world-wide, aimed to support participants in
Participation is by invitation only
Harnessing Investment for Sustainable Development: Inclusion of Investor Obligations and Corporate Accountability Provisions in Trade and Investment Agreements
11-12 January 2018, Versoix, Switzerland
An increasing number of trade and investment agreements include provisions or chapters relating to sustainable development. These provisions are typically state-oriented, putting obligations on state parties with respect to labour and environment. Taking a different approach, a number of recent investment treaties have begun to spell out obligations for investors with varying legal consequences attached. Building on the developments so far, there is a need to better articulate the processes to ensure that investors adhere to sustainable development standards in their operations in the host states and respect the obligations. It is equally important to ensure that communities and individuals adversely affected by investors’ corporate behaviour can seek and obtain redress for the harm suffered. The experts of this meeting discussed concrete options on how these provisions, processes and mechanisms can best be formulated, structured and incorporated in international investment and trade agreements. It was also discussed how these relate to the outcomes of earlier meetings on the creation of a new mechanism on the settlement of investment-related disputes. This expert meeting was jointly organized by the International Institute on Sustainable Development (IISD) and Friedrich- Ebert-Stiftung Geneva Office.
How to make International Trade Policy Supportive of the Paris Agreement
13 December, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Trade rules and environmental protection should be made mutually supportive, in particular with a view to climate change. This side event seeked to improve the understanding of the interface between trade and climate change policy in the context of the adoption of the Paris Agreement 2015, to discuss a set of general regulatory options for trade and climate policy makers to pursue were discussed, institutional and procedural aspects of future interactions between the regimes of the UN, WTO and regional free trade agreements elaborated and the role of Argentina and the EU for bringing about mutual supportiveness highlighted.
Using the WTO and the Trade System to Discipline Fossil Fuel Subsidies for Climate Mitigation
12 December, Buenos Aires, Argentina
A recent IMF study places global fossil fuel subsidies at US$5.3 trillion, or 6.5% of global GDP, which boost greenhouse gas emissions and further spur climate change, undermining efforts made by the international community. Political developments, including in the G20, the G7, the UN Agenda 2030 and the Paris Agreement, show an increasing recognition of the need to put an end to these subsidies. This session seeked to shed light on their impact and discussed if and how the WTO could become equipped to effectively discipline these subsidies.
Making Trade Benefit Workers by Reforming Trade Agreements
11 December 2017, Buenos Aires, Argentina
To ensure that the benefits of trade are more equally shared, special attention needs to be given to decent work in global value chains (GVCs) as the asymmetric power relationship between suppliers and MNEs leads to downward pressure on working conditions. Reforming the labour chapter in trade agreements could improve this situation and ensure a level playing field. The pros and cons of such a reformed labour chapter, including the Model Labour Chapter commissioned by FES, and how labour provisions could be multilateralized were discussed.
The Right to Information - Access to Remedies for Communities and Workers Affected by Toxic Waste
28 November 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
In line with the theme of the 2017 UN Forum on Business and Human Rights “Realizing access to remedy” this side event aimed at exploring access to information and grievance mechanisms currently in place for human rights violations in the context of toxic waste. Starting point for the discussions was the paramount importance of access to information; without which no means of remedy would even be possible.
Arabic Speaking Training Course on International Human Rights Mechanisms
13 -17 November 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
In cooperation with the Geneva Institute for Human Rights, FES Geneva organized an advanced training course on human rights and the UN human rights system to participants of previous regional training courses. Topics included in-depth information on the Geneva-based human rights system, meetings with UN and NGO representatives as well as participation at the 28th session of the Universal Periodic Review as well as meetings of the UN Treaty Body system.
Forging Social Contracts to Prevent Violent Conflict, to Protect Human Rights and to Sustain Peace: Bringing our Strategic Approaches and Resources to Bear
9 November 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
The international community has faced challenges in finding winning collective formulas to support the prevention of violent conflict and achieving and sustaining of peace in light of the profound complexities of any given country situation. In response, the new ‘sustaining peace’ approach at the UN recognizes that ‘development, peace and security, and human rights are interlinked and mutually reinforcing’ and calls for a comprehensive and system wide approach to sustaining peace. As part of the 2017 Geneva Peace Week this event brought together experts from the field and academia to discuss current fragmented policy approaches and identify innovative policy and practice at international, national and local levels.
Symposium on the Protection of Whistleblowers
30 October 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
Whistleblowers play a pivotal role in supporting transparency and accountability in both the public and private sectors as they bring to light illegal activities such as tax evasion and collusion. This symposium aimed to further elaborate the key elements that should be included in a robust whistleblower protection system as some high-profile cases have also evidenced the shortcomings. This is to ensure that workers who disclose wrongdoing – especially those of the independent audit institutions, customs, tax revenue agencies, and judicial bodies – are protected from reprisal and are rewarded for doing what is fair and just. This symposium was organized by PSI (Public Services International) prior to PSI’s 30th World Congress taking place 30 October – 3 November 2017 and supported by the FES Geneva Office.
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Reclaiming Policies for the Public
23 October, Geneva, Switzerland
Independent monitoring and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its structural obstacles and challenges are key factors for the success of the SDGs. A global coalition of civil society organizations and trade unions – supported by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung - presented the second edition of its Spotlight on Sustainable Development report. The report provides a comprehensive independent assessment of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). At this event, co-organized by UNRISD and FES, some of the key findings and recommendations of this year’s report were presented and discussed from various perspectives.
Making the International Trading System Work for Climate Change: Assessing the Options
19 October 2017, Crozet, France
The adoption of the Paris Agreement in 2015 created a new context for the interface between climate change and trade policy. Though much emphasis has been placed on how international trade rules could conflict with climate policies in the wake of the rulings on renewable energy subsidies, this workshop seeked to explore how the trading system could make a positive contribution towards achieving climate objectives. The workshop brought together practitioners and researchers from the climate and trade communities for an in-depth and substantive discussion, focusing on border carbon adjustment, fossil fuel subsidies, and institutional relations between climate and trade. The workshop presented interim findings from an ongoing Climate Strategies project, with a view to informing and engaging trade and climate policy-makers. It was jointly organized by Climate Strategies and the FES Geneva Office.
Approaching New Realities: Human Rights in Conflict Situations - Expanding the Scope of the Human Rights Council
16 - 17 October 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
This expert seminar, jointly organized by FES Geneva, the German Institute for Human Rights, Forum Menschenrechte and the Geneva Academy examined the role of the Human Rights Council in bridging international human rights and humanitarian law. Issues discussed included the question of what kind of instruments already exist within the framework of the HRC that could be developed in order to include armed groups as well as an analysis of common issues and conflicting areas between the Human Rights Council and Security Council.
Tomorrow’s World of Migration and Mobility
09 October 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
The aim of this meeting was to present a summary of the outcomes of a two-year scenario building initiative the International Organization for Migration, the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Global Future have engaged in to generate thinking about the future of migration and mobility. The scenarios on tomorrow’s world of migration and mobility seek to inform the migration debate among relevant stakeholders and to inspire possibilities to prepare and actively work towards desired futures for migration. A comprehensive publication on the scenario process and its outcomes is forthcoming.
WTO Public Forum 2017 Working Session: Africa's Continental Free Trade Area: Achieving Human Rights-Consistent Development
27 September 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
The continental free trade area (CFTA) is expected to generate significant gains for Africa in terms of growth, productivity, jobs and incomes. How these gains are divided will be key to determining whether the CFTA is inclusive and helps to accelerate Africa’s poverty reduction. The working session addressed the question what it would take to ensure that the CFTA promoted human rights and reduced poverty in Africa as responding to the challenges related to agricultural livelihoods, agro-manufacturing and informal cross-border trade will not be an easy task. The session advanced the understanding of the human rights challenges of vulnerable groups such as smallholder farmers, women and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) whose effective participation in trade would require a multifaceted approach. Therefore policy options for effectively leveraging the CFTA to deliver inclusive trade and development in Africa had been highlighted and concluded that the CFTA process must be inclusive, consultative and participatory. The recent study “The Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) in Africa – A Human Rights Perspective” was published by the FES Geneva Office and Economic Commission for Africa in collaboration with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in July 2017 and is available in English and French.
WTO Public Forum 2017 Working Session: Making Trade Benefit Workers
27 September 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
To ensure that the benefits of trade are more equally shared, special attention needs to be given to decent work in global supply or value chains (GVC). The asymmetric power relationship in GVCs leads to downward pressure on wages and working conditions as suppliers in developing countries have little control over price-setting. Research shows that the labour cost in garments and footwear production is only a tiny fraction of the retail price yet workers are in many cases not paid the minimum wage let alone a living wage. Moreover, social clauses in trade agreements have so far had little impact on the enforcement of the ILO core labour standards, let alone other legally binding ILO conventions. More robust clauses could perhaps change this. This Working Session aimed to discuss how to address these challenges in order to create a virtuous circle generating benefits for all, including workers in the developing world. The session was jointly organized by the FES Office for Regional Cooperation in Asia which is heading the CLS+ Project, the FES Geneva Office and FES headquarters.
FES-WTO Incoming for Spanish Speaking Journalists from Latin America
18-22 September 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
What exactly is the World Trade Organization and what is it not? How does the multilateral trading system work? What are the most current developments at the WTO? What will be discussed at the next WTO Ministerial Conference in Buenos Aires? Which other international organizations based in Geneva are involved in trade policy? And how do non-governmental organizations and trade unions assess developments in and around trade policy? These and other questions were dealt with during an intense week of information for journalists from Latin America.
The ATT from an African Perspective: Parliaments and Civil Society as Relevant Stakeholders for Universalization and Implementation
13 September 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
Despite the relatively fast pace of ratifications of the Arms Trade Treaty, universalization in certain regions and implementation is still a pending task. Parliaments still have to review and adapt local legislation, allocate budgets and increase oversight regarding government compliance with the ATT. This side event, jointly organized with the Parliamentary Forum on Small Arms and Lights Weapons discussed implementation and universalization of the ATT looking at the (West) African experience. The discussion highlighted importance of civil society and parliaments in this process, the role of Regional Economic Communities in ensuring universalization as well as the importance of national strategies linked to national political priorities and relevant international frameworks such as the Agenda 2030 and the UNPOA.
Authors' Workshop on Developing Country Tax Policies and Cooperation
28-30 August 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
The outcomes of Erosion and Profit Shifting project (BEPS), launched in September 2015 by the OECD, confirm the existence of a need for a thoroughgoing reform of international tax cooperation. The South Centre seeks to publish a volume of papers on tax policy and tax cooperation written by developing country officials and experts addressing the tension between developing countries’ own tax innovation and reforms and implementation of the internationally recognized OECD standards. The volume will contain case studies from India, Brazil, Uganda, Ethiopia, among others. Topics include the treatment of tax havens, taxing extractive industries and technical services in Africa as well as the improvement of transfer pricing audits and mutual administrative assistance. This workshop was jointly organized by the South Centre and the FES Geneva Office.
The CFTA: Ensuring Inclusive Outcomes Through Boosting Intra-African Trade and Connectivity
12 July 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
The African Union is negotiating a Continental Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) premised on the importance of enhanced trade integration and resulting economic benefits, with an equally important commitment to equity, justice and fairness where liberalization commitments undermine these values. ECA, OHCHR and the FES Geneva office are completing an ex-ante human rights-based assessment of the CFTA. This Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) considers, inter alia, food security, employment, and women’s rights as well as looking at detail on the CFTA’s possible impact on farmers, those engaged in agro-manufacturing and on informal cross-border traders; an important economic but mostly neglected part of African livelihoods. At this event, the results of the HRIA were presented as well as concrete recommendations for African governments and other stakeholders. Speakers included James Thuo Gathii (Loyola University Chicago), David Luke (ECA), Deborah Vorhies (ICTSD), Simonetta Zarrilli (UNCTAD) and Rajesh Aggarwal (ITC).
Challenges for the Multilateral Trading System: Perspectives from West Africa
27 - 29 June 2017, Accra, Ghana
The dialogue for civil society and media representatives aimed at developing a better understanding of the WTO and its role in the international trading system. Besides first-hand information on the ongoing preparations for the upcoming 11th WTO Ministerial Conference in December this year in Buenos Aires, the WTO's regular functions and responsibilities were explained in further detail. In addition, subjects of specific interest to the region were addressed. The dialogue's goal was to serve as a platform for in-depth and critical discussion of West Africa's experiences with the multilateral trading regime and its consequences for the region's social and economic welfare. The dialogue was jointly organized by the WTO and the FES Geneva office.
Impact of Climate Change on the Rights of the Child
14 June 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
Children are disproportionately impacted by climate change due to their unique metabolism, physiology and developmental needs says the Analytical Study of the OHCHR on climate change and the rights of the child (A/HRC/35/13). To protect these rights, climate policies and data collection must integrate children rights considerations and that states must ensure that children are effectively empowered to contribute to climate policy and action. This side event, co-organised by the Geneva Climate Change Consultation Group, aimed to take stock of what has been accomplished during this year on the impact of climate change on the rights of the child and to exchange views on next steps.
Climate Induced Movement of People – Ensuring a Human Rights Based Approach
08 June 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
Climate change has and will continue to have adverse consequences for livelihoods, public health, food security, and water availability, prompting affected communities to leave their homes. Climate change and environmental factors are expected to trigger growing population movements within and across borders. Particular efforts are therefore required to protect the human rights of those most vulnerable to climate change and ensure their meaningful participation in climate actions. This side event aimed to outline a human rights based approach to climate induced migration in light of the different international agreements both dealing with migration and climate change.
Toward Guiding Principles on Worker Rights and Toxics
23 - 24 May 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
This seminar was a follow-up to a March 2017 workshop in Geneva where the need for a more comprehensive approach to prevent and address the severe damages of toxics became apparent, particularly for workers. The divergence of standards across countries and sectors illustrates the need for more comprehensive and robust standards for States and businesses, particularly those with global value chains. The current UN Special Rapporteur on toxics, Baskut Tuncak, aims at developing Guiding Principles on the subject to protect, respect and fulfill the rights of those most vulnerable to the impacts of toxic chemicals. To achieve this, he wanted to gather information and exchange views with trade unions, NGOs and other experts during this workshop.
2017 Training Course for NHRIs on International Human Rights Mechanisms
01 - 05 May 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
The training, developed especially for staff of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) world-wide, aimed to support participants in
G20 and the Evolution of the Global Trade and Investment Regime: From Crisis Management to Vision and Leadership?
28 April 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
As a global governance mechanism, the G20 is uniquely positioned to shape the various components of the global trade and investment regime. This event took place against the backdrop where the pro- and anti-globalization debate has been evolving quickly, with scepticism regarding the benefits arguably gaining substantial popular support, in particular in some parts of the developed world. A week before the third Trade and Investment Working Group meeting in Berlin, this event addressed a series of issues linked to today’s new context and the future of global trade and investment regime. The event aimed to better understand how the G20 can be most effective in addressing trade and investment issues in 2017, 2018 and beyond. It was jointly organized by ICTSD and the FES Geneva office.
Building Capacities for Effective Implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty
03-07 April 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
For the second year in a row, FES Geneva was supporting the training course “Building Capacities for Effective Implementation of the Arms Trade Treaty” of the Geneva Centre for Security Policy. This course intended to train civil society actors and government officials of states having signed the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) on how to implement its provisions effectively. The goal of the course was to contribute to fulfilling the two main objectives of the ATT: Firstly, to “establish the highest possible common international standards for regulating or improving the regulation of the international trade in conventional arms” and, secondly, to “prevent and eradicate the illicit trade in conventional arms and prevent their diversion.
Pre-Launch of the Ex-Ante CFTA-Human Rights Impact Assessment
25 March 2017, Dakar, Senegal
Since 2015 a project of an ex-ante Human Rights Impact Assessment of the CFTA takes place in close cooperation between the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the FES Geneva office. At the occasion of the joint Annual Ministerial Conference of the ECA and the African Union Commission (AUC) held in Dakar, Senegal from 23-28 March 2017 a preliminary launch of the project’s results was presented to the high-level stakeholder meeting. The final study will be published in early summer 2017 and contains concrete policy recommendations for the agro-manufacturing sector, informal cross-border traders and with regard to agriculture liberalization. Further, it highlights the need for structural and institutional mechanisms to give voice and remedies to individuals whose rights may be adversely affected by the CFTA. Speakers at this side-event organized by ECA were Caroline Dommen, James Thuo Gathii, David Luke, Chris Nshimbi and Lily Sommer.
Beyond the Procedure: The UPR as a Catalyst for Public Debate on Human Rights
17 March 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is widely acknowledged as one of the major innovations of the United Nations Human Rights Council. At the outset of its third cycle, it is worth assessing whether the UPR has been delivering on its promise to make a difference to the human rights situation on the ground. Beyond the formalities of the mechanism, the UPR offers an opportunity for national public debate and social mobilization which, in turn, contribute to the promotion and protection of human rights. This panel discussion aimed to assess whether and how the UPR can serve as a catalyst for generating public debates on the situation of human rights in national contexts.
Workers' Rights, Toxic Threats: Accelerating State Action on Toxic Workplaces
06 March 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
One worker dies every minute due to the use of hazardous substances in the workplace. The international human rights framework including a vast number of standards set by the ILO aim to protect workers’ from toxic threats. However, workers’ often lack the right to information on hazardous substances and wastes which is central to the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms. Governments seem to pay little or at least not enough attention to protect workers’ from toxic threats. This subject which has a long tradition in the trade union’s movement needs to be put higher on today’s political agenda. How to achieve this by joining forces was one of the aims of this interactive meeting. It was jointly organized by the two UN Special Rapporteurs Hilal Elver (Right to Food) and Baskut Tuncat (Implications for human rights of the environmentally sound management and disposal of hazardous substances and wastes) and the FES Geneva office.
Labour Rights in the Context of Structural Adjustment and Austerity Policy
03 March 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
In response to debt and financial crises States have adopted fiscal consolidation measures, such as reducing the public sector wage bill or the number of people employed in the public sector, and labour market reforms. Such reforms have often reduced the legal protection of workers and affected the bargaining power of trade unions. In a number of cases, these reforms have amounted to violations of human rights obligations and international labour standards. The thematic report by the UN Independent Expert, Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, on the impact of structural adjustment and fiscal consolidation policies on labour and human rights submitted to the 34th session of the United Nations Human Rights Council constituted a basis for this panel discussion (A/HRC/34/57).
Global Migration Scenarios: Second Scenario Workshop
5 – 8 February 2017, Geneva, Switzerland
This workshop, jointly organized by FES Geneva, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Global Future, a Geneva based NGO, constituted the second meeting of invited experts who take part in the one-year scenario building initiative on Global Migration. The Global Migration Scenarios seek to inform the migration debate among relevant stakeholders and to inspire possibilities to prepare and actively work towards desired futures for migration. This second scenario workshop thus aimed to draw on the expertise of invited experts to explore and understand current trends, critical drivers and emerging challenges and opportunities, which may shape the global migration agenda in the future into different directions.
Validation meeting on the Human Rights Impact Assessment of the CFTA
01 December 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Since 2015 the Economic Commission of Africa, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the FES Geneva office are undertaking a joint project to realize a Human Right Impact Assessment of the Continental Free Trade Area in Africa. The aim of this meeting was to validate and discuss the preliminary findings of the final HRIA report, specifically from the case studies verifying the various cause-effect channels linking trade measures with potential impacts on right to food, livelihoods, cross-border trade and freedom of movement. The meeting assessed the recommendations to be built into the trade agreement or included in a parallel agreement or side-letter, technical cooperation or capacity-building project and national measures. We also examined the recommendations relating to institutional and structural mechanisms.
Parallel session at the Africa Trade Week: Human Rights Impact Assessment of the CFTA
29 November 2016, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
Although the CFTA is expected to boost intra-African trade and create aggregate gains for the continent, the distribution of these gains will be key. This session presented a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) of the CFTA with the view to providing policy recommendations for ensuring an equitable and fair CFTA agreement regarding the right to food, livelihoods, employment, and freedom of movement. Speakers included a team of researchers currently working on such a HRIA, namely Prof James Thuo Gathii, Kim Burnett and Chris Nshimbi. The research is embedded in an ongoing project of the Economic Commission for Africa, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the FES Geneva office.
Sharing the Lessons Learned: Business&Human Rights, Conflict Sensitivity, Business&Peace
17 November 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
This roundtable, jointly organized by FES Geneva, the Quaker United Nations Office and the Geneva Peacebuilding Platform, aimed to bring together experts from the human rights, environmental rights and peacebuilding communities to share their experiences in engaging with businesses. Both the rights- based and peacebuilding approach have become increasingly established, with ambitions growing from respecting basic human rights and adhering to the “do-no-harm” principle to contributing to just and fair development and building peace with local participation. The aim of this workshop was to share key lessons from these different approaches and identify points of collaboration and mutual reinforcement.
The Right to Land and Other Natural Resources
17 November 2016, Geneva Switzerland
Should the UN Declaration on the Rights of Peasants and Other People Working in Rural Areas include a right to land and other natural resources? Should this right include individual and/or collective entitlements? And does the draft UN Declaration being negotiated at the Human Rights Council contain agreed language on this right? These are some of the questions that were discussed during the expert seminar on the right to land and other natural resources, jointly organized by FES Geneva, the Geneva Academy of International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights, the Government of Switzerland and the Permanent Mission of Bolivia to the United Nations in Geneva.
Rights and Resources: Embedding Human Rights into Corporate Tax Regimes
14 November 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
As part of the programme of the 5th Forum on Business and Human Rights this session, jointly organized by the International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI), the FES Geneva Office and the Center for Economic and Social Rights, focused on SDG financing, corporate tax regimes and States’ obligations and companies’ human rights responsibilities in that respect. In considering how best to apply the UN Guiding Principles 'Protect, Respect and Remedy' framework to taxation, the discussion explored governments’ positive legal obligations to protect and prevent harmful corporate tax practices, the responsibilities of business enterprises to prevent the human rights risks of their tax planning, and discuss possibilities and obstacles available to ensure the provision of effective remedy for tax abuse.
Inequality as a Danger to Sustainable Peace – Converging Perspectives on Human Rights and Peacebuilding
11 November 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
Inequality does not only encompass economic inequality but includes the unequal distribution of resources, gender inequality as well as access to social services and the justice system. Over the last decades, strong evidence has been collected to suggest these inequalities are important drivers of destructive conflict and create new challenges to sustainable peace. Addressing existing socio-economic inequalities is thus not only crucial to ensure economic development of nations and the full enjoyment of human rights by its citizens but also from a peace and security perspective. This event, organized jointly by FES, QUNO and the IPU, brought together experts to discuss the impacts of societal inequalities on sustainable peace from a human rights and peacebuilding perspective.
The Social Protection Floors: Achieving Social Security for All - Implementing an International Concept on the National Level
07 - 11 November 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has decided to put the concept of SPF at the centre of its activities in the area of social justice. Therefore, FES colleagues and representatives of partner organizations will participate at an intense capacity building seminar. It was the second time in 2016 that FES Geneva is running such an event in close collaboration with FES headquarter and respecting country offices. The seminar aimed at providing in depth conceptual knowledge of SPF, a better understanding of possible stumbling blocks for achieving SPF, and assisting to develop projects in the respecting countries. At this November workshop, participants were from Costa Rica and El Salvador.
Arabic Speaking Training Course on International Human Rights Mechanisms
In cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Geneva Institute for Human Rights, FES Geneva organized an advanced training course on human rights and the UN human rights system to participants of previous regional training courses. Topics included in-depth information on the Geneva-based human rights system, meetings with UN and NGO representatives as well as participation at the 26th session of the Universal Periodic Review as well as meetings of the UN Treaty Body system.
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. A Good or Bad Start? Civil Society Reflection Group Report Launch: Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2016
24 October, Geneva, Switzerland
Independent monitoring and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its structural obstacles and challenges are key factors for the success of the SDGs. It is for this reason, a global alliance of civil society organizations and networks comprising of Arab NGO Network for Development (ANND), Development Alternatives with Women for a New Era (DAWN), Social Watch, Third World Network (TWN), Global Policy Forum (GPF) with the support of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) has agreed to produce an annual Spotlight Report assessing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the structural obstacles in its realization. The report puts a spotlight on the fulfillment of the 17 goals, with a particular focus on inequalities, responsibility of the rich and powerful, means of implementation and systemic issues. What are currently the main obstacles to achieving the SDGs? Are there transnational spillover effects that influence or even undermine the implementation of the goals? Are the current policy approaches, as they are reflected, inter alia, in the 2030 Agenda, an adequate response to the challenges and obstacles (or are they not fully adequate)? What has to be done? Which specific policy changes (including at international level) are necessary? At this event, co-organized by UN-NGLS and FES, some of the key findings and recommendations of the global Spotlight Report were presented and discussed from various perspectives.
Roundtable on the African Continental Free Trade Agreement and Human Rights
21 October 2016, New York, USA
The African Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA) is another envisioned mega-regional economic agreement standing alongside TPP, TTIP, RCEP, and others. The potential in Africa with its high economic and population growth raises important questions as to its potential effects, its winners and losers, and ways to address these associated concerns. Human Rights Impact Assessments (HRIAs) present an important technology of governance with which such concerns can be meaningfully assessed and gathered insights fed back into the policy process. Therefore, the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA), the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Geneva office decided in 2015 to run a HRIA of the CFTA which preliminary results were discussed at this event hosted by the Institute for International Law and Justice at the New York University and the Africa Law Association.
10 Years Human Rights Council – What Difference Has It Made? And What Difference Should It Make In The Future?
10 - 11 October 2016, Berlin, Germany
Organized jointly by FES, the German Institute for Human Rights and the NGO Forum for Human Rights, this annual conference on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of the Council provided an opportunity to reflect on the work and effectiveness of the HRC. In exploring the question of how the Council can do better in its second decade than in its first, the conference analyzed central structures of the Council. Potential future relationship of the Council with other relevant human rights institutions and mechanisms – such as National Human Rights Institutions, parliamentarians as well as the Development Agenda 2030 and – were explored. Enhancing cooperation and embedding human rights in the work of international mechanisms and debates is critical to ensure that the respective agendas are complementary rather than entering into competition with each other.
Agriculture and Trade in the 21st Century – Information Seminar for Latin American Stakeholders
03 - 04 October 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
Agriculture is at the crossroads of the world’s social, economic, commercial and political system. Its double purpose – producing food but also providing commodities for the global market – makes it a most sensitive topic in trade negotiations. This two-days seminar for policy advisers and trade unionists from various Latin American countries seeked to present first-hand information from Geneva based organisations in order to obtain a deeper understanding on the complex linkages between trade and agriculture policy. The seminar was jointly organized between Nueva Sociedad and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Geneva office.
What Will it Take to Foster Inclusive Trade in Africa?
29 September 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
Trade can create prosperity for all of Africa’s people by increasing opportunities for income generation. But for this to happen, UNCTAD research shows that promoting inclusive trade in Africa requires going beyond targeting vulnerable groups. It will take addressing fundamental enablers so that women, men and youth can benefit from entrepreneurial activity and from trade’s impact on their communities. Central to this is investment in productive capacities such as infrastructure, finance, energy, skills, policies, laws, regulations, and in people. This side-event was jointly organized by UNCTAD Regional Office for Africa, EIF, trapca and FES Geneva. Panellists included inter alia Mukhisa Kituyi, Secretary-General, UNCTAD, H.E. Alioune Sarr, Minister of Trade, Republic of Senegal, H.E. Joshua Setipa, Minister of Trade, Republic of Lesotho, Ratnakar Adhikari, Executive Director, Enhanced Integrated Framework for LDCs (EIF).
Implications for Inclusive Services from the New TiSA Texts
28 September 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
The leaking of the draft texts of the proposed TiSA offer the public significant access to understand the objectives and detail of the intended treaty. This panel brought together trade in services experts that have analysed the proposed text, and offered diverse perspectives as to whether the proposed rules would contribute to inclusive prosperity, democratic decision-making and access to quality, accessible public services as envisioned in the Sustainable Development Goals. This side-event was jointly organized by Public Services International (PSI) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.
How Can ACP Countries Harness Digital Innovation as Critical Enabler for Promoting Inclusive Trade?
27 September 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
Today's international trade world is dominated by digital innovation. Effective participation of ACP States in the digital economy is crucial to their trade and development initiatives. Although internet and mobile connectivity continue to raise, severe gaps remain and trade inclusiveness is by far not achieved. Inequality is growing, and there is urgent need for enhancing domestic and international actions necessary to enable ACP states to implement development objectives including those contained in the Agenda 2030 on Sustainable Development Goals. This session, organized in close collaboration between the ACP Geneva office and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung tackled the following questions: How can trade policy and trade-related development policy assist ACP countries’ desire to fully benefit from digital innovation? What are the ingredients for an inclusive digital economy? What do ACP countries expect from the WTO in order to increase their capacities to harness digital innovations?
Global Migration Scenarios: First Scenario Workshop
26 - 28 September 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
This workshop, jointly organized by FES Geneva, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Global Future, a Geneva based NGO, constituted the first meeting of invited experts who take part in the one-year scenario building initiative on Global Migration. The Global Migration Scenarios seek to inform the migration debate among relevant stakeholders and to inspire possibilities to prepare and actively work towards desired futures for migration. This first scenario workshop thus aimed to draw on the expertise of invited experts to explore and understand current trends, critical drivers and emerging challenges and opportunities, which may shape the global migration agenda in the future into different directions.
2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development - A Good or Bad Start? Reflection Group Report Launch: Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2016
19 July 2016, Nairobi, Kenya
Independent monitoring and review of the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and its structural obstacles and challenges are key factors for the success of the SDGs. A global alliance of civil society organizations and networks with the support of the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has agreed to produce an annual Spotlight Report assessing the implementation of the 2030 Agenda and the structural obstacles in its realization. The report puts a spotlight on the fulfillment of the 17 goals, with a particular focus on inequalities, responsibility of the rich and powerful, means of implementation and systemic issues.
Breaking the Silos – Bringing a Human Rights Perspective into the IIA reform debate
18 July 2016, Nairobi, Kenya
Today, there is no question whether a reform of international investment agreements (IIA) is needed but rather what kind of reform. The current system of investment treaties is broken. A system that gives the right to sue governments for the loss of future profits unilaterally to foreign investors in front of private arbitration tribunals. The issue of investor responsibilities is also dealt with in another context, namely within the UN Human Rights system. To what extent are investor responsibilities already part of the current IIA reform debate? How are investor responsibilities currently discussed in the two human rights work streams dealing with the issue? How could a link between the IIA reform debate and the human rights debate provide a way forward towards a new system of just and balanced investment agreements and investment contracts? This and other questions were discussed by Aldo Caliari (Center of Concern), Georgios Altintzis (ITUC) and others.
Preparatory Meeting - Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA)
04-06 July 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
The African Union is negotiating a Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). In April 2015, based on research work undertaken and a multi-stakeholder meeting held in Addis Ababa a Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) of the CFTA was proposed at the outset of the negotiation process. The HRIA should provide policy recommendations to be integrated into the design and implementation of the CFTA, aligning with human rights as well as development commitments and priorities.
In that context, a scoping study was prepared with support from the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA), the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Geneva office. With the completion of the scoping study, the next steps for the HRIA ex-ante assessment – culminating in a HRIA report – had to be defined. Therefore, this meeting aimed at consulting with invited participants from international organisations including UNCTAD and ILO, civil society groups and think tanks to brainstorm on the risks identified in the scoping study and how to design the next phase of the HRIA.
Side Event to the Human Rights Council
29 June 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
This Side Event aimed to explore the links between economic, social and cultural rights and the prevention of destructive conflict and violence as well as sustaining peace. During the meeting, OHCHR launched its June 2016 Report on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Early Warning of Conflict which demonstrates the links between violations of economic, social and cultural rights and violence, social unrest and conflict. The discussion offered space to analyze the role of violations of economic, social and cultural rights as early warning indicators in effective preventive action of conflict.
NGO Meeting with CESCR and Human Rights Committee (CCPR)
23 June 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
On occasion of the Joint Committee Meeting between the Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and the Human Right Committee in the afternoon of 23 June, FES Geneva, the Centre for Civil and Political Rights and the Global Initiative on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights invited representatives of civil society to meet with members of both Committee to discuss the importance of civil society engagement with treaty bodies. The meeting focused in particular on mutual practical benefits, implementation and follow-up measures as well as highlighting challenges of engagement and visions for future cooperation.
Russia in the WTO: Challenges, Risks and Potentials for Economic Development
21 - 24 June 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
After long years of negotiations for accession, Russia became member of the WTO in August 2012. Around ten journalists from Russia were invited to get first-hand information about the multilateral trading system - inside and outside the World Trade Organization. The focus of this year’s seminar was lying on the consequences of Russia’s accession to the WTO in the area of market access and the relationship between the WTO and the EEU. The seminar was organized in close collaboration between the WTO, FES Geneva and FES Russia.
Expert Seminar on Human Rights and Sustainable Development Goals
11 June 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
This expert seminar, jointly organized by FES Geneva, the International Bar Association and the Geneva Academy, aimed to inform the work of the UN human rights mechanisms in addressing the links between the Sustainable Development Goals and human rights, including States’ human rights obligations in the development and implementation of fiscal and economic policies. By bringing together internationally renowned experts the outcome of this meeting intented to assist States in the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals from a human rights perspective, with a focus on economic and fiscal policy measures.
Core Labour Standards – Plus: FES-South East Asia Project Visits International Geneva
06 - 10 June 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
There seems to be a window of opportunity to revive the old idea of a binding social clause in international trade and in global supply chains. The FES-South East Asia “CLS Plus” project aimed at developing a policy-oriented tool to assess and promote the implementation of comprehensive labour and social standards, including but also beyond the Core Labour Standards, in export-oriented industries in Asia in the framework of trade agreements and preference systems. This Geneva based workshop enabled participants to get first-hand information from international experts of trade and labour rights’ policies. Additionally, participants had the chance to further develop the regional project by incorporating the inputs received during this seminar. The FES-CLS+ project was running in the following countries: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Myanmar, Pakistan and Vietnam.
Networked Production in Global Value Chains – Implications for Trade Unions
07 June 2016, 13:00-15:00, Room XI at the UN Palais des Nations, Geneva, Switzerland
This event focused on how new forms of “networked production”, intertwining manufacturing and services, shape value creation and appropriation in today’s economy. How does it affect the ways work is being organised? What consequences do these developments have on trade unions and how can unions respond organisationally? These and other questions were discussed based on the presentation by Professor Jörg Sydow, expert of management and inter-firm cooperation at the Free University of Berlin, Germany.
Recent Event: Global Migration Scenarios: Scoping Workshop
30 - 31 May 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
This scoping workshop was the first step in a one-year scenario building initiative jointly organized by FES Geneva, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Global Future. The workshop drew on the expertise of selected migration experts to explore and understand critical drivers and emerging challenges and opportunities which may shape the global migration agenda in the future. The workshop was convened to ensure an understanding of the purpose and scope of the scenario planning activity from the outset and was aiming to identify what the scenarios on migration should include as well as to reach an agreement on the final outcome of the process.
2016 Training Course for NHRIs on International Human Rights Mechanisms
02 - 06 May 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
The training, developed especially for staff of National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) world-wide, aimed to support participants in
The UPR: A Human Rights Awareness-raising Process
19 - 20 April 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
The mechanism of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is widely acknowledged as mobilizing the attention of the media and the public of a country. The UPR thus offers a unique opportunity for outreach, information and a public debate on fundamental rights.
Framework Forum: Issues and Proposals for Taking Forward Nuclear Disarmament
18 April 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
Prospects for progress on nuclear disarmament in 2016 seem difficult, despite the establishment in 2015 of an Open Ended Working Group (OEWG) with a mandate to recommend measures to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. This roundtable provided an opportunity to reflect on some of the key issues being raised in the Conference on Disarmament and the OEWG and consider the possibilities for progress on a range of measures, including recommendations for action by non-nuclear, allied and nuclear-armed States.
FES-WTO Incoming for English speaking Journalists from African and Asian Countries
11 -15 April 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
What exactly is the World Trade Organization and what is it not? How does the multilateral trading system work? What are the most current developments at the WTO? What is the outcome of the last WTO Ministerial Conference? Which other international organizations based in Geneva are involved in trade policy? And how do non-governmental organizations and trade unions assess developments in and around trade policy? These and other questions were dealt with during an intense week of information for journalists from Asia and Africa.
Human Rights Council Side Event: Economic Inequality, Financial Crises and Human Rights
09 March 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
This side event brought together experts to discuss the impacts of inequality in the current economic climate. Topics included economic inequality from a human rights perspective, the role that austerity measures play in fuelling inequalities that negatively impact social protection, how economic inequality relates to other types of inequality and what needs to be done to create more just societies.
The Social Protection Floors: Achieving Social Security for All - Implementing an International Concept on the National Level
08 - 11 March 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
The Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung has decided to put the concept of SPF at the centre of its activities in the area of social justice. Therefore, FES colleagues and representatives of partner organizations from Georgia, Iraq, Mongolia, Morocco, Myanmar, Namibia, Nigeria, Tunisia and Zambia participated at an intense capacity building seminar. This seminar aimed at providing in depth conceptual knowledge of SPF, a better understanding of possible stumbling blocks for achieving SPF, and assisting to develop projects in the respecting countries.
The Social Protection Floor: Information and Strategy Meetings
07 - 08 March 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
The Core Team of the Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors had its regular strategy meeting from 7th to 8th March 2016. The Coalition has been effective in its collective international advocacy efforts to demand social security. At this meeting, future projects and working areas were discussed. During the same week, social security specialists from various FES offices around the world participated at an information seminar on human rights based social protection floors.
Human Rights Council Side Event: After Paris - Continuing the conversation on climate change and the right to health
03 March 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
This side event followed the High Level Panel Discussion on climate change and the right to health and the presentation of the reports by the Special Rapporteur on the environment to the Council in the morning and aimed to outline civil society perspectives. The impacts of climate change on the right to health, human rights obligations by state parties to effectively regulate pollutive industries as well as public health policies were addressed.
50th Anniversary of the Human Rights Covenants: A Civil Society Perspective on Impact and Contemporary Challenges
01 March 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
50 years ago the General Assembly adopted the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR) as well as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). But what impact have the Covenants had on the situation of rights holders and what impact do recommendations from the relevant UN Committees have 'on the ground’? This side event strived to explore these questions and further identify current challenges for the Covenants’ implementation from a broad variety of perspectives. Against the backdrop of the universality and indivisibility of all human rights, this interactive discussion further emphasized the interdependence of the two Covenants.
Gender Related Dimensions of Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction
29 February 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
In the aftermath of COP21, a debate on climate-resilient livelihoods and gender inequalities is particularly timely. Unequal distribution of rights, resources and power constrain many women’s capacities to adapt to climate change and disaster. This public event, co-organized with CARE International, strived to identify next steps towards climate resilience and outline the respective roles of civil society, states and UN human rights mechanisms in moving towards gender sensitive responses to the effects of climate change.Unlocking the Potential for E-Commerce in Developping Countries: Towards an Action Plan for an Aid for eTrade Initiative
The rise of new e-commerce is enabling more developing countries to seize opportunities from online commerce. But significant divides remain: most people and small to medium-sized companies especially in the developing world have yet to use the internet, let alone fully leverage e-commerce for economic opportunity. It is critical to explore ways to ensure that shift from offline to online transactions does not leave people, enterprises and countries behind. Against this background, the workshop brought together a small group of government representatives, international organizations, private companies and other experts to formulate concrete proposals on how to facilitate e-commerce in developing countries. This joint UNCTAD/FES event drew on previous experience with the Aid for Trade initiative and built on existing activities and work by relevant public and private bodies.
Access to Remedy: Roles and Responsibilities of Interested States in Relation to Cross-border Business Related Human Rights Abuses
28 - 29 January 2016, Geneva, Switzerland
This workshop was the first of a series of workshops with government and civil society actors in support of OHCHR’s Accountability and Remedy Project. The workshop series is intended to explore current state approaches, attitudes and barriers to more effective action in the case of business related human rights abuses, as well as potential points of agreement that could help inform future practical and legal developments. This first workshop was aimed at clarifying roles and responsibilities between home, host and other interested states in such situations and came a month prior to a stakeholder consultation on OHCHR’s draft recommendations.
Strategy meeting of the Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation
15 January 2016, Zürich, Switzerland
The Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation (ICRICT) is a group of leaders from around the world who believe that there is both an urgent need and an unprecedented opportunity to bring about significant reform of the international corporate taxation system. The Commission aims to promote the reform debate through a wider and more inclusive discussion of international tax rules than is possible through any other existing forum; to consider reforms from a perspective of global public interest rather than national advantage; and to seek fair, effective and sustainable tax solutions for development. At this meeting, the Commission continued to strengthen its strategy for various activities in 2016. Participants were amongst others José Antonio Ocampo, Magdalena Sepúlveda, and Joseph Stiglitz.
Visit the ICRICT website for more information about ICRICT