The Parliaments, Rule of Law and Human Rights research project held a side-event in Geneva during the 34th session of the UN Human Rights Council on Wednesday 15 March 2017, on Increasing parliamentary engagement with human rights and the rule of law.  Details of the event can be found here. 

 The event, which was being held in partnership with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Commonwealth and the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, saw the launch of a new research report by the project’s researcher, Brian Chang: Global Developments in the role of parliaments in the promotion and protection of the rule of law and human rights – an emerging consensus (which can be downloaded in four languages here). 

Thhe purpose of the side event was to follow up on the Panel Discussion that took place in the Human Rights Council on 22 June 2016 on the contribution of parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its universal periodic review (link to the broadcast of the Panel Discussion here).  The project’s Principal Investigator, Murray Hunt, was one of the expert panellists at the Panel Discussion.  He spoke about how to bring about a step change in the role of parliaments and made a number of practical proposals about how to bring that about, including by working towards the agreement and adoption of some Global Principles and Guidelines to help parliaments comparable to the Paris Principles on NHRIs and the Belgrade Principles on the relationship between NHRIs and Parliaments.  This was the first time the possibility of such Principles and Guidelines had been discussed in the Council.  A summary report of the Panel Discussion will be submitted to the Human Rights Council during its next session, in June 2017.

The June 2016 Panel Discussion was the result of a resolution in the Human Rights Council on the ‘Contribution of Parliaments to the work of the Human Rights Council and its universal periodic review’ (link here), acknowledging ‘the crucial role that parliaments play in translating international commitments into national policies and laws, and hence in contributing to the fulfilment by each State Member of the United Nations of its human rights obligations and commitments and to the strengthening of the rule of law’.

A high-level international conference (link here) was held in the UK Parliament in September 2015, at which participants from the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Inter-Parliamentary Union, the Commonwealth Secretariat, the Westminster Foundation for Democracy, a number of Parliaments around the world including Parliaments in the Asia Pacific, Africa and Europe, inter-governmental organisations, non-governmental organisations and the academy, came together to discuss the importance of Parliament’s role in relation to the rule of law and human rights and agreed on the desirability of some internationally agreed principles and guidelines, while acknowledging that more work remains to be done on their scope and content. There was a strong consensus amongst participants that Parliaments should play a greater role in the protection and realization of the rule of law and human rights, and many felt that the time has come to explore the potential for some internationally agreed principles and guidelines on the role of parliaments in this respect, drawing on the many examples of good practice that are now emerging across the world from a wide variety of parliaments.  

The research project has provided significant support for these international developments.  It aims to create a coherent narrative of the otherwise disparate developments taking place in many countries and regions of the world.  By bringing together these developments, and the people working on them, around a hub for related resources and links, the project aims to demonstrate that there is a significant worldwide movement towards democratising the rule of law and human rights, and to provide a framework within which these developments can acquire more theoretical coherence and practical momentum.

You are encouraged to explore our micro-site by exploring the links on the sidebar on the right hand side of this page, to find sub-pages on the project’s work, as well as useful resources and links to other organisations that are also involved in related work.

Contact details

If you would like further information or to contribute to the work of the project, please contact Brian Chang, the project’s researcher, at our project email: parliamentsruleoflawandhumanrights@law.ox.ac.uk​

Project mailing list

If you'd like to join our mailing list to be updated on the latest project developments, please drop an email to Brian Chang at parliamentsruleoflawandhumanrights@law.ox.ac.uk

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