Event information

1 December 2021, 10:00-11:30
Register start 19 November 2021
Register end 30 November 2021

Minority Issues and Universality

Human Rights Conversations

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Universality – i.e. the notion that international human rights law protects all individuals worldwide – has been a key principle of that legal framework since it was enshrined in the preamble of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. However, neither states nor scholars have ever ceased challenging this principle, on both normative and political grounds.

An ongoing research project at the Geneva Academy aims at taking stock of and contributing to a better understanding of the various criticisms while also questioning their validity. From a thematic perspective, it notably focuses on the relevant practice and associated discourse, in multilateral fora, around minority issues.

Ahead of the Fourteenth Session of the Forum on Minority Issues, and forming an integral part of the above-mentioned research project, this Human Rights Conversation thus aims at exploring how measures aimed at the effective protection of minorities and vulnerable groups could take into consideration the seemingly competing narratives between collective rights (the so-called 3rd generation of human rights) and individual rights. In other words, panelists will reflect on the principle of universality of human rights – and associated challenges – in specific relation to the advancement of minority issues at the United Nations.


  • Felix Kirchmeier, Executive Director, Geneva Human Rights Platform


  • Dr Alexandra Grey, Chancellor’s Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Faculty of Law, the University of Technology Sydney
  • Yannis Fotakis, Human Rights Expert, Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations in Geneva
  • Dr Fernand de Varennes, United Nations Special Rapporteur on minority issues
  • Professor Joshua Castellino, Executive Director, Minority Rights Group

About Human Rights Conversations

Human Rights Conversations are a series of events, hosted by the Geneva Human Rights Platform, aimed at discussing contemporary issues and challenges related to the promotion and protection of human rights in Geneva and beyond.


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