1 June 2017
Less-lethal weapons (LLW) and equipment have an important and increasing role in law enforcement. They may be used as a less dangerous alternative to firearms, in order to reduce the risk of serious harm to persons and to the suspect of crimes, or in situations where force is necessary but where the use of firearms would be disproportionate.
There is no agreed definition of LLW but law enforcement agents know what they speak about when LLW are invoked. There are also very few national and no international standards that regulate the use of LLW, their impact and long-term effects.
While there is some jurisprudence related to the use of Tasers and some guidance from the 1979 United Nations (UN) Code of Conduct for Law Enforcement Officials and the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms by Law Enforcement Officials, there is no comprehensive analysis of LLW use’s human rights impact and compliance with international human rights law (IHRL).
At the 2017 annual seminar on current human rights challenges related to the use of force, participants – experts, practitioners, academics and representatives from international and non-governmental organizations – explored the challenges and opportunities of new technologies, including LLW and unmanned systems, from the perspectives of both the right to life and the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment.
Given the lack of definition of LLW in IHRL, the absence of international standards regulating their use and the lack of clarity regarding their human rights impact and compliance with IHRL the seminar concluded with a call to further explore the use of LLW for law enforcement purposes.
On 17–18 October 2018, the two coordinators of the Geneva Human Rights Platform, Felix Kirchmeier and Kamelia Kemileva, participated in Oslo in a conference on the role that domestic human rights actors play towards the 2020 review of United Nations treaty bodies.
Joshua Niyo is the first recipient of this new prize for his paper ‘Legal Obligations for Armed Non-State Actors: Can IHL and IHRL Learn from Each Other?’.
In the context of the 2019 Geneva Peace Week and in partnership with IBAHRI, this event will address the too often obstructed right to legal assistance persons subjected to violence, arrest or detention are entitled to.
This event, organized by the Permanent Mission of Japan and co-sponsored by the Permanent Missions of France, Canada, Mexico and Finland and the Geneva Academy, will discuss the challenges in economically empowering women.
Truth Commissions are by now an integral part of the transitional justice vocabulary and practice. This short course will provide a comprehensive, multidimensional and practical examination of this transitional justice mechanism, shedding light on both its aims and the practical challenges it has met or is likely to meet.
This short course provides an overview of the evolution of the rules governing the use of force in international law, focusing on military intervention on humanitarian grounds and the creation of the United Nations collective security system. It then addresses the concept of the responsibility to protect.
Olivier Chamard / Geneva Academy
The Treaty Body Members’ Platform connects experts in UN treaty bodies with each other as well as with Geneva-based practitioners, academics and diplomats to share expertise, exchange views on topical questions and develop synergies.
We are a partner of the Human Rights, Big Data and Technology Project, housed at the University of Essex’s Human Rights Centre, which aims to map and analyse the human rights challenges and opportunities presented by the use of big data and associated technologies. It notably examines whether fundamental human rights concepts and approaches need to be updated and adapted to meet the new realities of the digital age.