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FES Geneva > Events


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.

Events archive (2002-2015)




Global Migration Scenarios: First Scenario Workshop

26 - 28 September 2016, Geneva, Switzerland

This workshop in September, jointly organized by FES Geneva, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Global Future, a Geneva based NGO, constitutes 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 aims 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.

Participation by invitation only

How Can ACP Countries Harness Digital Innovation as Critical Enabler for Promoting Inclusive Trade?

27 September 2016, 13:00-14:30pm, Room S2, WTO, 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 will tackle 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?


Implications for Inclusive Services from the New TiSA Texts

28 September 2016, 09:00-10:30am, Room E, WTO, 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 brings together trade in services experts that have analysed the proposed text, and will offer 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 is jointly organized by Public Services International (PSI) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung.

Further information on TiSA

What Will it Take to Foster Inclusive Trade in Africa?

29 September 2016, 10:30-12:00am, Room S1, WTO, 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 is jointly organized by UNCTAD Regional Office for Africa, EIF, trapca and FES Geneva. Panellists include 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).

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 seeks 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 is jointly organized between Nueva Sociedad and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, Geneva office.

Participation is by invitation only.

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 provides 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 analyzes 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 – will be 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.

Arabic Speaking Training Course on International Human Rights Mechanisms

31 October - 04 November 2016, Geneva, Switzerland

In cooperation with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the Geneva Institute for Human Rights, FES Geneva organizes 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.

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 will be 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 aims 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 will be from various Latin American countries.

Participation is by invitation only.

Inequality as a Danger to Sustainable Peace – Converging Perspectives on Human Rights and Peacebuilding

11 November 2016, 9:30am – 11:30am, Room XIV, Palais des Nations, 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, will bring together experts to discuss the impacts of societal inequalities on sustainable peace from a human rights and peacebuilding perspective.

Rights and Resources: Embedding Human Rights into Corporate Tax Regimes

14 November 2016, 11:40am – 13:00pm, Palais des Nations, 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, focuses 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 will explore 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.


Past Events


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.
Some of the key findings and recommendations of the global Spotlight Report were presented and discussed from various perspectives. Speakers included Hubert René Schillinger (FES), Ranja Sengupta (Third World Network), Serena Abi Khalil (ANND), Edward Oyugi (SODNET), Yuefen Li (South Centre), Celeste Drake (ITUC).


Download Spotlight Report

More on the Reflection Group on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

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
Prevention and Early Warning of Conflict - The Role of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights

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
• Expanding their knowledge of the functioning of UN human rights mechanisms;
• Identifying concrete opportunities for NHRIs' effective engagement;
• Identifying practical ways of effective engagement with the UN mechanisms, such as report writing and following up;
• Engaging with colleagues from the OHCHR and NGOs as well as with states; and
• Exchanging experiences and best practices with peer NHRIs participating in the training.

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.
This workshop, jointly organized by FES and CIFEDHOP, aimed to bring together actors from civil society and national human rights institutions and discuss various practices employed to use the UPR as a lever of understanding and dissemination of human rights. The workshop aimed to draw up an initial inventory of these practices and to identify the challenges faced and thereby contribute to an understanding how the UPR can add to the understanding of fundamental rights in the public domain.

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.


List of Participants

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.



Civil Society Guide

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. 


  • John Knox, Special Rapporteur on human rights and environment
  • Palash Mondal, CARE Bangladesh - Impacts climate change on community health
  • Yves Lador, Earthjustice – climate change impact on public health policies
  • Budi Tjahjono, Franciscans International – Impact on communities


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.


More Information on the CEDAW Half Day of General Discussion

Unlocking the Potential for E-Commerce in Developping Countries: Towards an Action Plan for an Aid for eTrade Initiative

16 – 17 February 2016
, Geneva, Switzerland

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.


Upcoming UNCTAD E-commerce Week, 18-22 April 2016

Informal Consultation on linking human rights, peace and security in preparation for the High Level Thematic Debate on International Peace and Security in May 2016

12 February 2016, Geneva, Switzerland

FES Geneva and the Quaker United Nations Office (QUNO) believe that peacebuilding and human rights work by the UN and others can be strengthened by increasing understanding of the processes and relevance of each agency and community’s work and by providing space for dialogue between them.  This consultation was held to explore the practical ways of fostering this and to feed these ideas into May’s High Level Thematic Debate.  In addition to contributing to shaping the high level thematic debate on peace and security this consultation was an initial step in thinking about how human rights can be included from the beginning in this agenda item for the GA and the associated activity.


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.

Read more

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