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.
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 are 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 is 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 is organized in close collaboration between the WTO, FES Geneva and FES Russia.
Participation is by invitation only.
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 are inviting representatives of civil society to meet with members of both Committee to discuss the importance of civil society engagement with treaty bodies. The meeting will in particular focus on mutual practical benefits, implementation and follow-up measures as well as highlighting challenges of engagement and visions for future cooperation.
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
UPR Pre-Session of Paraguay
17 December 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
The Geneva based NGO UPR Info organized UPR pre-sessions to bring together Permanent Missions, National Human Rights Institutions (NHRIs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) to discuss the human rights situation of States one month prior to their review at the UPR Working Group. To the 12th round of the pre-sessions, FES Geneva invited an NGO representative from the Paraguayan human rights coalition Coordinadora Derechos Humanos Paraguay (CODEHUPY). He presented recommendations of the civil society report that was submitted to the Human Rights Council.
Side-event at 10th WTO Ministerial Conference: A HUMAN RIGHTS PERSPECTIVE ON THE CFTA
17 December 2015, Nairobi, Kenya
Transparency and participation are key human rights principles and generally also good rules of thumb that can transform a trade negotiation from a secret, exclusive process to an open, inclusive one that is acceptable to a wide range of stakeholders. As the CFTA process moves forward and the negotiations begin, it will be useful to envision in advance a plan for transparent negotiations that is inclusive and participatory. By early 2016, a first scoping study of such an assessment will be published thanks to a joint project of OHCHR, UNECA and FES. At this side-event, some of the study’s analyses and recommendations were presented to the public for the first time.
Side-event at 10th WTO Ministerial Conference: Mega-Regional Trade Agreements and their Impacts on Depeloping Countries and the Multilateral Trading Regime
16 December 2015, Nairobi, Kenya
As most developing countries, particularly those from Africa, are excluded from Mega Regional Trade Agreements, their position in the international trading system could face daunting challenges. In addition to lowering tariff rates among their participants, these “mega-regionals” are expected to cover a wide range of behind-the-border trade-related areas. Furthermore, it is crucial for all WTO members to analyse carefully the geopolitical implications of such mega RTAs. The event stimulated discussions about developing countries’ opportunities to address their critical economic and development needs in the context of such agreements. Speakers included Eveline Herfkens, Heribert Dieter and others.
LDC-journalists at 10th WTO Ministerial Conference
15 - 17 December 2015, Nairobi, Kenya
The structure of the multilateral trading system plays a crucial role for further development especially of the Least Developed Countries (LDC). Thus, FES and WTO provided 12 journalists from these countries the opportunity to be present at this year’s Ministerial Conference in Nairobi, Kenya. During the Conference they were able to report in real time straight from the conference, to get in touch with the ministers of their country, and to be amongst the first to write about what is happening in Nairobi.
Side Event at COP21: Climate Change: One of the Greatest Human Rights Challenges of our Time
10 December 2015, Paris, France
Climate change is an issue of justice and inequality for those experiencing severe impacts of climate change. These impacts — as well as responses taken to address them — threaten internationally recognized human rights. In light of these threats, the Paris Agreement must take steps to address these harms. This side event at the United Nations conference on climate change COP21 thus lended support to the core human rights language in the operative text of the agreement. High-level state, UN and civil society representatives provided a unique perspective on why human rights protections are critically needed as part of the climate change agreement.
Utilizing the United Nations Guiding Principles (UNGPs) in the context of extractive industries – Benefits and challenges
18 November, Geneva, Switzerland
This side event to the UN Forum on Business and Human Rights, co-organized with the Zimbabwe Environmental Law Association, brought together business, civil society and UN representatives to analyze experiences of different stakeholders with the implementation of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The session particularly focused on the examination of current practice of states and business enterprises the area of extractive industries and outlined the potential and remaining challenges for the UNGPs in the context of stakeholder consultations. As such, the session aimed to contribute to the strengthening of multi-stakeholder dialogue and engagement among communities, corporates and governments.
Mining communities in post-conflict settings: New challenges and opportunities for peace keeping
17 November 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
For a number of conflict regions, particularly in Africa, the current concepts designed to prevent or halt natural resource exploitation as funding sources for war and insurgencies appear to be outdated. Sanctions regimes to prevent natural resources from fuelling armed conflict, as devised by the United Nations, as well as due diligence schemes such advised by the OECD or made mandatory for US companies by the Dodd-Frank Act, appear to be behind the curve of the actual developments. As part of the Geneva Peace Week this session, jointly organised with the Geneva Centre for Security Policy, aimed to analyse and update conceptions and unintended consequences on the ground.
Arabic Speaking Training Course on International Human Rights Mechanisms
02 - 06 November 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
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 62nd session of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women and the 23rd session of the Universal Periodic Review.
FES-WTO Regional Dialogue: Southern Africa and Multilateral Trade
25 – 28 October 2015, Cape Town, South Africa
The dialogue for journalists and NGOs aimed at developing a better understanding of the WTO and the general international trading system. Besides first-hand information on the ongoing preparations for the upcoming 10th WTO Ministerial Conference, the WTO's regular functions and responsibilities were explained in further detail. The dialogue's goal was to serve as a platform for in-depth and critical discussion of Southern Africa's experiences with the multilateral trade regime and its consequences for the region's social and economic welfare. The implications of bilateral and plurilateral trade agreements were also addressed.
Participation was by invitation only.
Global Tax Reform Beyond BEPS
20 October 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
Fair taxation can help in fighting inequality, realizing human rights, and ensuring the implementation of the sustainable development goals (SDGs). However, a succession of reports of tax dodging by multinational corporations have cast the spotlight on the need for reform of the international tax system. It has also become evident that international tax avoidance makes use of tax havens and the offshore secrecy system, which also facilitates capital flight and money laundering for criminal and terrorist purposes. The G20 gave its support to the OECD’s Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) initiative and provides a welcome opportunity for a much wider debate. While the BEPS project clearly has made progress that would have been thought of as impossible just five years ago, it has evoked additional questions on the overall fitness of the international tax framework. This side event focused on the following questions:
Implementing the Sustainable Development Goals
16 October 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
Shared Responsibility and mutual accountability for implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals are at the heart of the “2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development”, which was agreed in August this year, and will most likely have been adopted in its current form at the September session of the GA (25-27 Sept 2015). To attain those goals, the agenda contains further sections: “Means of implementation” to explore how this vision could be realized and a section on accountability to create mechanisms to verify that action is indeed taken regarding the means of implementation. This panel discussion debated whether the document provides for sufficient tools to ensure a strong accountability of states to the people, including the “mutual accountability” between states, needed to ensure delivery of the implementation in order to realize the goals in full respect of human rights.
Blind Spots of the Human Rights Council Agenda – Ways to Move Forward
05 - 06 October 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
Organized jointly by FES, the German Institute for Human Rights and the NGO Forum for Human Rights, this annual conference focused on the three main themes climate change, non-state armed actors in conflict situations and their respective impact on the enjoyment of human rights as well the rights of the child. Ways how to integrate these issues more comprehensively in the HRC agenda were analyzed and discussed.
Participation was by invitation only
WTO Public Forum: CFTA: Boosting Trade For People in Africa?
01 October 2015, 15:30-17:00, WTO room S2, Geneva, Switzerland
In June 2015, the African Union summit launched negotiations to achieve a free trade area throughout the continent. This panel discussed the context, scope, and sequence of the negotiations. It reviewed analytical work and approaches to understand the potential impact of the CFTA on intra-African trade expansion, structural change, poverty reduction, incomes, employment, agriculture livelihoods and food security. In particular, it focused on the contribution trade can make to industrialization efforts on the continent, drawing upon the insights from the UNECA’s 2015 Economic Report on Africa which focused on industrialization through trade. It further delineated the potentials of a Human Rights Impact Assessment on the design and process of a regional trade agreement. The session was jointly organized by UNECA, OHCHR and FES Geneva office.
WTO Public Forum: Trade in Services: Do GATS and TISA work in the public interest?
01 October 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
Trade in services “works” to integrate services sectors into the global economy and to open up markets for transnational suppliers of services. Given the explosion of services able to be contracted and delivered online, increasing trade in services can also work to bring new services to consumers across the globe. At the same time, the particular disciplines on regulating services – both domestic and traded – inherent in proposals such as the TISA and the expansion of the GATS in the WTO, may also work to constrain legitimate functions such as the proper public regulation and oversight of the provision of private services, as well as the provision of quality accessible public services. Which trade in services rules work for ensuring global financial stability? Data privacy? Ensuring safety and efficiency in transportation? Ensuring labor rights, including for migrant workers? Which rules work – or do not work – to ensure human rights to health care, education, access to water, and other essential public services.
WTO Public Forum: “Trade Works…IF” – What Does it Take to Make Trade Work for Development?
01 October 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
Trade can be a vehicle for growth, development and poverty reduction. Harvesting the potential gains trade, however, is not neither automatic nor easy. The mere increase of integration into the global economy does not by itself produce a greater developmental impact. Trade works IF developing countries can fully harness the opportunities that come with trade and minimize its potential disadvantages. Decision makers have to work in a variety of policy fields simultaneously and complementary to provide the solid ground for economic and social development. The working session explored the recommendations of policy initiatives aiming at a fair distribution of gains from trade.
Consultation – HRIA of the CFTA in the area of agriculture policy
28 September 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) was collaborating with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES), Geneva office on a potential human rights impact assessment (HRIA) of the Continental Free Trade Area (CFTA). The purposes for conducting HRIAs include prioritising human rights in policy-making, strengthening accountability, and empowering rights holders. A screening and scoping assessment will be led by OHCHR as the next step in the HRIA process. This meeting aimsed at providing the platform to brainstorm amongst Geneva based experts and the OHCHR consultant, Prof. James Thuo Gathii, around potential scenarios for a HRIA of the CFTA, specifically on agriculture (food security and livelihoods).
Participation was by invitation only.
From Geneva to Paris: One voice on rights for a just climate agreement
24 September 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
In its last Resolution on climate change the HRC has “expressed concerns that climate change has contributed to the increase of both sudden-onset natural disasters and slow on-set events, and that these events have adverse effects on the full enjoyment of all human rights”. Incorporating an effective human rights dimension in the universal and legally binding Agreement under negotiation at COP21 in Paris is now of crucial importance. This side event offered an opportunity to hear the joint call of constituencies of the civil society to include strong and effective human rights language in the Agreement in Paris and views of the States leading the UNFCCC process.
Background paper: Last HRC Resolution
Rights at work – Rights for women. Economic empowerment through decent working conditions
18 September 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
Women and girls remain overrepresented in the informal economy, labour-intensive and precarious work, and in low-paid jobs. A more transformative approach is required to infuse human rights with women’s perspective to combine economics with social and human development. Economic emancipation of women through participation in the formal economy and decent conditions of work can only be achieved by a concerted effort of the human rights, labour, trade and development sectors. This side event analysed how existing human and labour rights standards and trade frameworks can respectively advance fair working conditions for women and propose a holistic approach to ensuring rights at work for all women workers.
Global Labour Tax Summit
17-18 September, Geneva, Switzerland
Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung is organizing in close cooperation with Public Services International (PSI) the Global Labour Tax Summit. Inequality soars while multinational companies with unprecedented profits manipulate their accounts and corporate structures to exploit legal loopholes and facilitate massive theft from the communities that have generated the wealth. The summit will examine global tax issues from the perspective of workers and organised labour. It will feature expert presentations and strategic discussions about the role that multinational corporations play, examine national and international government actors who set the current inadequate rules, look for alternatives and commit to action.
Step it Up: Dignity – Rights - Development
08 September 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
To mark the 25th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families, FES supported the Committee on the Protection of the Rights of All Migrant Workers and Members of Their Families in holding a half-day panel discussion focusing on the multiple human rights abuses faced by migrant workers as well as challenges for States on how to best address these issues. The discussions focused on migrant workers in the Gulf, unaccompanied children in the Americas, and irregular migration flows in the Mediterranean.
Framework Forum Roundtable: From the NTP to the UN - Filling the Legal Gap to Prohibit and Eliminate Nuclear Weapons
02 September 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
Co-sponsored by the Middle Powers Initiative, Parliamentarians for Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament, Basel Peace Office and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung, this forum discussed the outcomes of the NPT 2015 Final Document including the recommendation to establish an Open Ended Working Group to identify effective measures for the full implementation of Article VI of the NPT, including legal provisions required to achieve a nuclear-weapon-free world.
NGO Breakfast Discussion. On the Road to Paris: Where are the TNCs?
07 July 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
In the context of the Climate Conference COP 21, taking place this December and on the occassion of the meeting of the IGWG on an International Legally Binding Instrument on TNCs we discussed on ways to ensure that states and business corporations take human rights into account when taking measures on climate change. Furthermore we debated on the emerging approach of states to transfer an increasing amount of capacity and responsibility to act to local or private actors.
In the context of human rights being threatened (and often already violated) by the impact of climate change as well as by improper climate measures, is this emerging approach another threat to human rights?
Workshop on WTO Negotiations
03 - 04 July 2015
A clearly defined work program on the remaining Doha Development Agenda issues’ shall be agreed to by July which is supposed to be the basis for the 10th WTO Ministerial in December this year in Nairobi.
At this point, it is not yet clear what might take place in July and the situation in Geneva remains rather fluid. Nevertheless, developing countries must stand ready and there is a high likelihood that negotiations will be fairly intense by early July. This workshop was an opportunity for Geneva-based delegates and capital-based delegates to come together to discuss the key issues that are likely to be on the table by that time. The development perspective was at the heart of this discussion. This workshop was jointly organised by the South Centre, the Centre for WTO Studies, the Commonwealth and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) Geneva office.
Dinner Debate on “Global Futures – Geneva Perspective”
23 June 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
Global mega-trends and new levels of complexity require new ways of thinking and acting to defend universal human rights, end extreme poverty and inequality, prevent conflict, reduce the risk of natural disasters and mitigate the effects of climate change. We need to deepen our understanding and explore possibilities for the application of strategic foresight (futures) tools and techniques to allow us to imagine and, purposefully, plan towards alternative Global Futures.
Prior to a two-day workshop organized by World Vision International and the Graduate Institute Geneva, our dinner debate featured a number of opening comments by international recognized futurists on the challenges facing the international community of nations and society at large, the need for new ways of thinking and acting, and examples of ways in which a ‘futures’ approach can open up space for step-changes in different sectors. The debate was launched by an opening statement given by Mr Michael Moeller, Director General of the United Nations Office in Geneva.
Accountability Mechanisms for Implementing the SDGs - Side Event to the 29th Session of the HRC
18 June 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
In the context of the UN Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda in September 2015, this side event to the 29th session of the HRC discussed the importance of human rights principles in informing the debates on accountability for the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The meeting addressed issues of claims and standards for accountability, as per existing international human rights law, as well as considerations how the Universal Periodic Review mechanism currently in place at the HRC could best serve as a model for a future SDG accountability mechanism.
Background paper: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) – Contributions of the UN Human Rights Council to the Debate so far. (Julia Kercher)
Public Side Event at the 29th Session of the HRC: Corporate Action for Climate Justice and Human Rights
17 June 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
At this Side Event the human rights risks and challenges for business created by climate change were discusse. The meeting was organised by the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung and Business & Human Rights Resource Centre. Practitioners from business, trade unions, governments, human rights organizations shared their experience and ideas for effective approaches to injecting human rights in climate change actions in the lead-up to the Paris conference.
Expert Workshop: Corporate Action for Climate Justice and Human Rights
17 June 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
In the run-up to the COP 21 climate conference in Paris at the end of this year, the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre and FES Geneva organized an expert workshop to discuss human rights risks and challenges for business created by climate change. While the main obligations were on governments, companies were in a powerful position to mitigate the disproportionate impact of climate change on the most vulnerable and help them adapt. The framework for this event were existing and future business efforts necessary to address climate change; and calls from labour and civil society for business and governments to put human rights at the heart of their climate strategies.
Informal Trade Union Meeting on CESCR General Comment on “Rights At Work”
12 June 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights published a draft of their upcoming General Comment on ICESCR Article 7 on “just and fair conditions at work,” calling for comments and submissions by all interested stakeholders. To facilitate input by trade unions, FES Geneva offered this informal dialog with Committee Members ahead of the official “Day of General Discussion” on the issue.
"Geneva Debates" - a Tailor-Made Briefing for FES-Partners on Social, Trade and Investment Policy
08 – 12 June 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
During the ILC, specialists of FES offices and representatives from partner organizations from Europe and Northamerica will get an insight on the work of various Geneva based institutions. Topics will include the right to strike, the social protection floor, trade and trade negotiations as well as international investment policy and tax justice.
Social and Solidarity Finance: Tensions, Opportunities and Transformative Potential
11 - 12 May 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
This workshop brought together an interdisciplinary group of around 25 experts — in the fields of alternative finance, economic sociology and the anthropology of money — to look at the transformative potential of social and solidarity finance from a South-South and triangular cooperation perspective at a time when financing for development and the post-2015 sustainable development agenda are high on the UN’s list of priorities. A meeting of the UN Inter-Agency Task Force on Social and Solidarity Economy was also held in conjunction with the workshop, to ensure the policy impact of event. The findings of the workshop were fed into a Task Force position paper to be disseminated to stakeholders of the Third International Conference on Financing for Development in Addis Ababa (13-16 July 2015). The event was jointly organized by UNRISD, ILO and FES Geneva office.
Contribution of Intellectual Property to Facilitating the Transfer of Environmentally Rational Technology
12 May 2015, Crozet, France
The issue of intellectual property rights and the debate over technological cooperation is
FES-WTO Incoming for Journalists from French Speaking African Countries
04 - 08 May 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
What exactly is the World Trade Organization and what is it not? How does the multilateral trading system function? What are the most current developments at the WTO? What can be expected from the next WTO Ministerial Conference end of this year in Nairobi? 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 French speaking African countries.
Training Course on Human Rights for NHRIs
04 - 08 May 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
The training, developed especially for staff of National Human Rights Institutions world-wide, supported participants in
Public UPR Side Event on Workers’ Rights in Panama and Honduras
07 May 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
On 6 and 8 May, Panama and Honduras underwent their second UPR review. FES supporteded civil society actors in both countries in submitting reports to the review, in both cases focusing on workers’ rights. The joint side event discussed the submissions as well as the human rights performances of both governments.
Multistakeholder Expert Workshop on a Potential Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA) of the Continental Free Trade Area in Africa
16 - 17 April 2015, Addis-Abeba, Ethiopia
This workshop aimed at exploring possible ways to conduct a human rights impact assessment (HRIA) of the Continental Free Trade Area Agreement in Africa (CFTA) on which negotiations will begin later this year. The meeting featured a validation and discussion of an issues paper being prepared by OHCHR and elaboration of future steps in the HRIA process. It was organized jointly by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung (FES) offices in Geneva and Ethiopia.
E-Commerce for Developing Countries
13 April 2015, Domaine de Penthes, Geneva, Switzerland
Technology has changed the world of business tremendously during the past at least two decades. E-commerce does not stand for something exotic. E-commerce is an important part of business nowadays. However, this is not the world of many businesses in developing countries; especially not for their SMEs. The technological infrastructure has not yet been sufficiently developed in many countries but other obstacles such as legal requirements, IT knowhow, models on how to ensure that rural and remote areas can actively participate, and how domestic economies can benefit, continue to exist.
Membership in the WTO: Challenges, Risks and Potentials for Economic Development of Russia
24 - 27 March 2015, 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 on this year’s seminar was lying on the consequences of Russia’s accession to the WTO in the area of market access and FDI.
Conference on Legal Accountability of Business for Human Rights Impacts
14 - 15 March 2015, Château de Bossey, Switzerland
The aim of the proposed dialogue was to strengthen NHRIs' capacities to participate effectively in the coming international processes in which the possible development of legal frameworks addressing business' human rights responsibilities will be addressed.
This aim was met by reaching the following objectives:
Ensuring the Right to Food through Human Rights Impact Assessments - Side Event to the 28th session of the Human Rights Council
11 March 2015, Room E 3023, UN Palais des Nations, Geneva
At this expert round-table, we presented and discussed the results of the Human Rights Impact Assessment (HRIA)-study “Owning seeds, accessing food”. Following recent experiences in implementing HRIA in practice, the panelists discussed the strengths and shortcomings of the HRIA approach and identified challenges for future HRIAs. The discussion also focused on the potential role of the UN human rights system in strengthening HRIAs and in supporting its use in public policy making.
Social Protection Floors and Human Rights
06 March 2015, Room XXIV, Palais des Nations, Geneva
How can social protection floors contribute to the realization of economic, social and cultural rights? And how can better understanding of the norms and principles of human rights improve the design of social protection floors?
Speakers included Juan Somavia, Virginia Brás Gomes, Isabel Ortiz and others.
Human Rights and Climate Change - Side Event to the 28th Session of the Human Rights Council
6 March 2015, Room XXVII, UN Palais des Nations, Geneva
A full-day panel in the official program of the HRC addressed the issue of climate change. To complement the governmental discussions, FES, jointly with many NGOs active in this field, hosted a Side Event to offer civil society perspectives and debate claims on future action by the HRC and the UNFCCC to strengthen policy coherence and human rights protection in climate related action.
Brainstorming Session on Business and Human Rights - Access to Justice and Extraterritorial Obligations
26 February 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
Geneva for Human Rights-Global Training and the Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung jointly organized a Brainstorming Session on Business and Human Rights.
The brainstorming session focused on the access to justice for victims and human rights defenders as well as extraterritorial obligations of State parties. The aim was to sensitize the actors involved, to offer a space for discussion and to exchange views on ways to improve the existing tools, and to carefully prepare the forthcoming first session of the negotiations on the binding instrument.
To read the contribution of Prof. Shane Darcy (Irish Center for HR), please click here
To read the contribution of Prof. Sigrun Skogly (ETO consortium / Lancaster University), please click here
NGO Coordination Meeting on the UNFCCC ADP Negotiations
06 February 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
FES and Earthjustice and CIEL, as initiators of the GeCCco (Geneva Climate Change concertation group) were organizing a coordination meeting at the occasion of the Geneva session of the UNFCC ADP negotiations taking place from 8-13 February. The meeting helped to coordinate the NGO communities focused on the HRC and the UNFCCC respectively.
LDC Workshop on the Elaboration of the Work Programme
30 January 2015, Geneva, Switzerland
The next WTO Ministerial Conference will be held end of this year in Nairobi, Kenya. There is not much time left to define how to proceed with the remaining issues of the Doha Development Agenda. LDCs have to actively participate in the definition of the so-called Work Program to ensure that their concerns are addressed. Some of the major bottlenecks in these negotiations concern the relationships between emerging and OECD countries. But LDCs have to actively participate in order to not suffer from collateral damage of the solutions found or that those issues marginalize their legitimate interests. The overall objective of this workshop organized jointly by ideas centre and FES Geneva is to brainstorm on what essential elements may form part of the Work Program being elaborated by July 2015 and how LDCs could influence the negotiations to promote their interests.