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.
In the context of our Academic Platform on Treaty Body Review 2020, Columbia University hosted the regional consultation for North America and the English speaking Caribbean on 1-2 June 2017.
In the framework of the Geneva Human Rights Platform, the Geneva Academy co-hosted with the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights a consultation between the UN Special Rapporteur on the rights to freedom of peaceful assembly and of association, Clément Voule, and delegates from civil society organizations and NGOs.
ILO/ Thierry Falise
In this panel discussion, representatives from states, businesses and civil society will share their views and responses on the UN Working Group on Business and Human Rights’ Gender Framework and Guidance.
UN Photo / Jean-Marc Ferré
This training course will explore the origin and evolution of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) and its functioning in Geneva and will focus on the nature of implementation of the UPR recommendations at the national level.
UN Photo / Pierre Albouy
This project, launched in 2016, examines different concepts of universality, maps contemporary challenges to the principle of HR universality in the context of specific themes covered by the HRC and discusses the role of the HRC in the promotion and protection of universally guaranteed HR.
Olivier Chamard/Geneva Academy