United Nations Human Rights Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement

While law enforcement officials frequently use less-lethal weapons during assemblies, international guidance on their design, production, procurement, testing, training, transfer, and use was lacking.

The United Nations Human Rights Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) – the outcome of research and broad consultations carried out under the auspices of the Geneva Academy and the University of Pretoria – fills this gap.

Promoting Lawful Use and Accountability

Less-lethal weapons include police batons, chemical irritants such as pepper spray and tear gas, electroshock weapons such as TASER, and water cannon. They are defined in the Guidance as weapons whose ordinary use offers a substantially reduced risk of death when compared to conventional firearms.

Based on international law, in particular, IHRL and law enforcement rules, as well as good law enforcement practice, the Guidance provides direction on what constitutes lawful and responsible design, production, transfer, procurement, testing, training, deployment, and use of less-lethal weapons and related equipment, and promotes accountability.

It is aimed at a wide range of stakeholders, particularly states and law enforcement agencies, as well as weapon manufacturers, human rights mechanisms, private security companies, police oversight bodies, and human rights defenders, along with individuals seeking a remedy for human rights violations caused by less-lethal weapons.

Research and Consultations under the Auspices of the Geneva Academy and the University of Pretoria

This Guidance is the outcome of research and broad consultations carried out under the auspices of the Geneva Academy and the University of Pretoria, in particular, its Institute for International and Comparative Law in Africa (ICLA) and its Centre for Human Rights.

A group of experts – academics, representatives of United Nations (UN) agencies and other international organizations, UN special procedures mandate-holders, members of UN treaty bodies, law enforcement officials, experts in police oversight, representatives of non-governmental organizations, civil society and manufacturers – helped to draft the Guidance. An inclusive consultation process allowed a broad range of stakeholders to provide input and comment on successive drafts, whether in writing or during expert meetings and consultations in Cambridge, Geneva, and Pretoria.

NEWS AND EVENTS

A police officer during a demonstration News

New Human Rights Guidance on the Use of Less-Lethal Weapons

October 2019

The United Nations Human Rights Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement issued by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) is the outcome of research and broad consultations carried out under the auspices of the Geneva Academy and the University of Pretoria.

Read more >

MORE ON THIS THEMATIC AREA

Pixabay/joanbrown51 News

Research with an Impact: The Relevance of the UN Human Rights Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons

June 2020

This document – the outcome of research and broad consultations carried out under the auspices of the Geneva Academy and the University of Pretoria – provides direction on what constitutes lawful and responsible deployment and use of less-lethal weapons.

Read more

Geneva Human Rights Platform staff during the online conference News

Towards Inclusive Cities: Experts Discuss Online the Situation of Persons with Disabilities and Older Persons

May 2020

During two days around 60 experts analysed existing challenges and barriers for persons with disabilities and older persons in an urban context and made specific recommendations thereof.

Read more

A general view of the Human Right Council. Event

The United Nations and Human Rights: A Critical Appraisal

October 2020, 15:00-16:30

In this online event, some contributors to the new edition of Philip Alston and Frédéric Mégret’s book ‘The United Nations and Human Rights’ will examine the functions, procedures, and performance of the major UN organs dealing with human rights.

Read more

An aerial view of camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), which have appeared following latest attacks by M23 rebels and other armed groups in the North Kivu region of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). Short Course

International Refugee Law

30 April - May 2021

This short course, which can be followed in Geneva or online, 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.

Read more

A general view of participants during of the 33nd ordinary session of the Human Rights Council. Training

The Universal Periodic Review and the UN Human Rights System: Raising the Bar on Accountability

2- November 2020

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.

Read more

Sign: National Human Rights Commission of Nepal Project

Local Implementation of Global Human Rights

Started in May 2020

The Geneva Human Rights Platform collaborates with a series of actors to reflect on the implementation of international human rights norms at the local level and propose solutions to improve uptake of recommendations and decisions taken by Geneva-based human rights bodies at the local level.

Read more

Cover page of the book Publication

The UN Human Rights Council: A Practical Anatomy

published on September 2020

Eric Tistounet

Read more