State of human rights in 2017

In this seminar, speakers discussed the main human right challenges and trends of 2017, starting with Human Rights Watch’s newly released World Report 2018.


 

Entering 2018, a year when the world will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, what is the state of human rights globally? The seminar discussed the main human right challenges and trends of 2017, focusing on the nationalist and populist trends, the mass atrocities in Burma/Myanmar and the role of the international community.

Speakers:

  • Måns Molander, Sweden and Denmark Director, Human Rights Watch
  • Jan Eliasson, former UN Deputy Secretary General
  • Matilda Hald, Programme Manager, Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and Chairperson of the Swedish Burma Committee

Moderator: Caroline Åberg, Sweden representative, UNDP Sweden

In mid-January 2018, Human Rights Watch released its World Report 2018, summarising key human rights issues in more than 90 countries and territories worldwide. It reflects investigative work that Human Rights Watch staff undertook in 2017, usually in close partnership with human rights activists in the country in focus.

The report describes 2017 as a year containing multiple crises and challenges for upholding and defending human rights. In Burma/Myanmar, the military conducted a campaign of ethnic cleansing, even alleged acts of genocide, against the Rohingya minority. In Yemen, Syria and DRC, civilians continued to suffer from armed conflict and violations of international human rights and humanitarian law. A retraction of traditional human rights champions from the global scene were combined with shrinking democratic space in countries like Cambodia and Venezuela. The report also discusses populist and nationalist trends contributing to protectionism and an increasingly fragmented world where international norms and rights are increasingly under pressure.

In the seminar, Human Rights Watch presented its report, followed by a discussion on some of the questions it raises: How can we stop and prevent violations, hold perpetrators to account, and defend hard-fought progress on human rights? How do we ensure that UN reform and the implementation of the 2030 Agenda reinforces a human rights agenda? Who will defend human rights in 2018? And how can and should the international community respond to specific crisis such as the one in Burma/Myanmar?

The event forms part of the seminar series “Implementing Agenda 2030”, jointly organised by the Dag Hammarskjöld Foundation and UNDP Sweden, this time with Human Rights Watch Sweden as a co-organiser.