29 November 2016
The use of force by law enforcement agencies has been high on the agenda of the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) for many years.
Our new In-Brief Use of Force in Law Enforcement and the Right to Life: The Role of the Human Rights Council draws from the discussions of our first Global Expert Seminar on the Right to Life. It examines how the right to life is affected by law enforcement agencies’ use of force and identifies how the HRC could further promote respect for international standards governing policing.
The In-Brief also addresses many questions discussed in the HRC: What are the main standards and how are they understood? Do they enjoy widespread support among states and international organizations, including during counter-terrorism operations? Would it be warranted to set out in more detail how the standards should be applied?
Based on the research undertaken, this In-Brief suggests areas for action by the HRC. The author notably suggests that the HRC can promote the implementation of existing international standards governing the use of firearms by law enforcement through its special procedures and by providing a space for discussion. The new Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions could take the lead on these issues early in her mandate, following the important 2014 report on use of force during policing.
Given his expertise, the new Special Rapporteur on torture, Dr Nils Melzer, could contribute to the current debate on use of firearms and less-lethal weapons by the submission of a report on the use of force by law enforcement officials early in his mandate. This report would be valuable to clarify under what circumstances the use of firearms amounts to torture.
This In-Brief was written by Dr Stuart Casey-Maslen, Honorary Professor at the Law Faculty, University of Pretoria.
We gratefully acknowledge the funding for this In-Brief provided by the Swiss Federal Department of Foreign Affairs.
In this interview, Sonali Wanigabaduge, who is enrolled in our Master of Advanced Studies (MAS) in Transitional Justice, Human Rights and the Rule of Law, tells us about the programme and life in Geneva.
Olivier Chamard/Geneva Academy
In 2020, the Geneva Human Rights Platform will continue to work on the connectivity of human rights mechanisms, broadening the scope by also looking at the connectivity of Geneva-based human rights bodies with regional mechanisms in Africa, the Americas and Europe.
Robin Geiß, Swiss Chair of IHL at the Geneva Academy, will explore the disruptive potential of new military technologies with a focus on those areas where these technologies could fall through the cracks of the international legal order.
To kick-start discussions at the UN about the right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, this expert seminar will consider the growing recognition of this right and will answer the question: is it time for universal recognition at UN-level?
This short course analyses the main international and regional norms governing the international protection of refugees. It notably examines the sources of international refugee law, including the 1951 Geneva Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees, and their interaction with human rights law and international humanitarian law.
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.
Resulting from traditional legal research and informal interviews with experts, the project aims at examining how – if at all possible – IHL could be more systematically, appropriately and correctly dealt with by the human rights mechanisms emanating from the Charter of the United Nations, as well from universal and regional treaties.