The Good Human Rights Stories Initiative wants to put a focus on good human rights stories, showcase successes and positive developments and inspire the implementation of human rights-based policies and open consultative processes in all fields. To do so, the Ambassadors in Geneva presented stories about positive examples from their own country over a range of areas: democracy, pluralism, gender equality, executive and penitentiary systems, combatting violence, migrant's rights and education. After the official launch of the Good Human Rights Stories Initiative in New York, last week the initiative was officially introduced in Geneva, the United Nation's capital for human rights. The event, took place two weeks ahead of the 40th session of the Human Rights Council, aiming to promote a positive narrative on human rights through sharing good human rights policy examples.
"We need to strengthen the Human Rights Council and also share the good examples - not only the bad ones where we still have work to do," said President of the Human Rights Council Coly Seck when opening the event.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, reiterated her support for the initiative and the idea to show that progress on implementing human rights is made all over the world to a broader public: "We need to speak in simple terms in public to make clear that the international human rights framework does something good for them, and that works very well through positive examples".
EU Special Representative for Human Rights Stavros Lambrinidis made another crucial point : "Human rights are not a luxury, and it is therefore essential to demonstrate the daily difference they make in people’s lives". He reminded that these positive stories may inspire others to follow these good examples of success in implementing human rights.
Philip Lynch, Director of the International Service for Human Rights, gave several concrete examples of civil society engagement. "Progress in human rights is slow, but it exists" – and it always results in benefits and improvements for citizens and populations.
Democracy and social justice
Indonesia presented the development of good governance and social justice through a respect of pluralism and diversity. The Gambia showed a video on the creation of the country’s constitutional, legal and institutional architecture to guarantee fundamental freedoms. The EU story highlights the improvements made for people who are victims of crime and how their lives changed for the better since the EU adopted a law three years ago which better defends their rights: the EU Victims Directive. The EU story also features those who assist victims to overcome their trauma, exercise their rights and find the help and treatment they need.
Equality and Economic, Social and Cultural Rights
Peru showcased a wide range of initiatives that address racism and discrimination through a broad range of policies, and in his presentation, Cap Verde showed the successes of a package of economic and educational supports for migrants, in line with international standards. On a similar note, Argentinia presented the benefits to individuals in Argentina's system in support of the economic and social rights of migrants and refugees and the promotion of integration.
Gender equality and women's empowerment
A prevailing theme was the empowerment of women and the promotion of gender equality: Tunisia presented the country's efforts to address and eliminate violence against women. The National Strategy for Gender Equality was an vivid example for the importance and efforts made in Uruguay, and New Zealand presented political and economic gender equality reforms in the country 125 years after becoming one of the first countries to give women the right to vote.
Civil society activism
The Republic of Korea presented the central role of civil society activism in promoting human rights and democracy in Korea: "Civil society prompted global discussions on victims of sexual violence in conflict, and this advocacy in Korea and many oyher countries put gender-based violemnce in conflict on the agenda in the United Nations". Another story was presented by keynote speaker Philip Lynch, Director of the International Service for Human Rights who told how Australia passed to ease medical transfers to migrants after medical staff and other members of the civil society had engaged in a debate and advocated for this piece of legislation.
Norway and Georgia each presented stories from the executive branches: Norway has reformed its police interrogation methods to improve their alignment with human rights, and Georgia told a story of anti-torture reforms and monitoring in the country's penitentiary system which improved prison conditions and rehabilitation: " The new approach on the rehabilitation and resocialization seeks to ensure the legal, safe and professional execution of sanctions and protection of the rights and dignity of persons deprived of liberty."
All speakers could agree on the central conclusion that these examples of implementing legislation to improve the human rights situation had a direct beneficial effect on citizens and the state. Human rights fostered peace, development, security, development, diversity and well-being through human rights, a narrative that advocates resilient democracies and inclusive societies. The organisers hope for a successful continuation of the initiative and that many more Good Human Rights Stories will be told and collected on the initiative's website GoodHumanRightsStories.net