2020 Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform


Plenary session during the first annual conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform Plenary session during the first annual conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform

The Conference panels are organised in partnership with:

300DPI CMJN CRDH eng CCPR logo Centre for Reproductive Rights   FES Logo
CIEL ishr logo colour logo fian IS 2019    UN Habitat
 Essex Armed Conflict Hub  EarthJustice  OHCHR    logo icj
logo Gi ESCR
UNCAC Coalition Logo 

Building on the 2019 Annual Conference which explored the connectivity of human rights mechanisms within the United Nations (UN) human rights system, the 2020 Annual Conference of the Geneva Human Rights Platform will focus on the connectivity between regional and global human rights mechanisms. It will also discuss relevant links with national systems and the overall effectiveness of these interactions in a number of specific policy areas like climate change, the fight against corruption or the COVID-19 pandemic.


The conference will bring together a large number of human rights actors from Geneva and beyond and will offer a platform for exchange, notably on co-organized panels in the afternoon and via a ‘meeting space’ during the lunch break.

Connectivity between regional and global human rights mechanisms

The modern human rights protection system is comprised of an intricate and disparate web of UN and regional treaties and oversight mechanisms. The last half-century has seen the promulgation of a large number of international and regional human rights instruments, including numerous multilateral UN human rights treaties and the various conventions and protocols of the regional human rights systems.

The plurality of instruments, institutions and actors, which constitute the fabric of the modern human rights ‘system’, and the rich development of human rights standards and oversight mechanisms since the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, raise important challenges to the functioning of the system as a cohesive ‘whole’. In fact, while human rights are conceived by definition as universal, the proliferation of human rights norms and mechanisms at the global and regional levels raises not only significant potential for substantive complementarity and overlap, hence reinforcing mutual efforts, but also a danger of incoherence and redundancy of effort, confusion and fatigue. As such, it is important to address a number of key questions:

  • To what extent are such human rights mechanisms, both at the global and regional level, currently connected?
  • How do global and regional human rights mechanisms tackle and address particular issues and concrete policy areas?
  • What lessons can be drawn by comparing and contrasting different practices in order to reduce redundancy, better reinforce mutual efforts, close gaps in human rights monitoring and accountability, and ultimately maximize the impact of a human rights system?
  • How can we ensure greater connectivity among these multifarious components, both at the global and regional level, to help them actually function as a system?


To explore these issues, the programme will highlight different aspects of connectivity, focusing on the question of how the mechanisms deal with them and in which ways they are and could contribute to ongoing debates.

The conference is organized around three plenary panels and four simultaneous working groups.

Morning Plenary (9:00–13:00)

  • Plenary Panel 1: COVID-19 responses by the global and regional human rights systems
  • Plenary Panel 2: Complaints handling by regional and global human rights mechanisms – procedural and substantive questions

Afternoon Working Groups (14:00–15:30)

Parallel sessions in four working groups will explore how regional and global human rights mechanisms address particular concrete policy areas:

  • Working Group 1 – Corruption and Human Rights: How can regional and global human rights mechanisms be engaged in the fight against corruption?
  • Working Group 2 – Environment and Human Rights: How do regional and global human rights mechanisms address this link?
  • Working Group 3 – International Humanitarian Law and Human Rights: How do regional and global human rights mechanisms deal with international humanitarian law?
  • Working Group 4 – Right to Health and Human Rights: How do regional and global human rights mechanisms address the Right to Health? – Insights from the COVID-pandemic

Concluding Plenary (16:00 – 18:00)

The concluding plenary will focus on lessons learned and outlook on how connectivity between global and regional human rights mechanisms can be strengthened in concrete areas.

In Geneva and Online

Due to restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, the conference will follow a hybrid format.

The morning plenary sessions can be followed in Geneva or online, while the afternoon's working groups and the concluding plenary will be exclusively online.

Those participating online will be able to interact with panelists and ask questions during the discussions.


Registration deadline extended to 11 October 2020, due tu continued demand, via this Google Form to attend the various sessions of the conference – plenaries and working groups – and indicate, for each session, whether you wish to follow it in Geneva or online.

Please note that, due to sanitary measures related to COVID-19 pandemic, places in Geneva are limited and will be allocated on a ‘first come first served’ basis.

Registered participants will be informed ahead of the conference whether they will be able to follow it online or in Geneva.

About the Geneva Human Rights Platform

The Geneva Human Rights Platform (GHRP) provides a neutral and dynamic forum of interaction in Geneva for all stakeholders in the field of human rights to debate topical issues and challenges related to the functioning of the Geneva-based human rights system. Relying on academic research and findings, it works to enable various actors to be better connected, break silos, and, hence, advance human rights.

As a ‘Mechanisms Lab’, the GHRP supports the international community to engineer solutions to ensure the sustainable functioning of the Geneva-based human rights mechanisms and bodies, allowing them to address human rights challenges effectively.


Maison de la Paix (Geneva) and online.


Maison de la paix

Public Transport

Tram 15, Direction Nations - tram stop Maison de la Paix

Access for people with disabilities

Maison de la paix is accessible to people with disabilities. If you have a disability or any additional needs and require assistance in order to fully participate do not hesitate to contact us info[a]geneva-academy.ch


To attend the Annual Conference online you will need to make sure you have downloaded Zoom on your computer or device, if you haven’t installed Zoom yet, you can do so here.

We will send you, ahead of the conference, an email with the link(s) to the session(s) you registered for.

On the day of the Conference, please click on the link(s) which will connect you to the sessions of the Annual Conference you registred for. If you haven’t downloaded Zoom, you may be requested to do so.


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