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Global Protection Cluster

Human Rights Engagement
The Issue

“Human rights protection is not a specific tool or approach, but rather refers to a desired outcome – where rights are acknowledged, respected and fulfilled by those under a duty to do so, and as a result of which dignity and freedom is enhanced. Human rights protection results when, through specific actions, individuals who otherwise would be at risk or subject to deprivation of their rights, are able to fully exercise them. It is based on international law, and necessarily focuses on both immediate responses where people are threatened, and on longer-term work to build and strengthen laws and institutions that protect rights.” The 2005 Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Plan of Action

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Human rights protection is at the core of humanitarian action. 
Humanitarian crises, both conflicts and weather-related disasters, almost invariably result in human rights concerns. Humanitarian crises may be triggered by human rights concerns, or once they occur, may exacerbate the adverse impact on the affected population.  
Integrating human rights considerations into the multilateral humanitarian system’s planning, preparedness, response and recovery efforts is necessary to address the related challenges. Swift and decisive efforts to protect human rights are imperative during conflict in order to stop or reduce the likelihood of future violations stemming from the conflict. In the recovery from a conflict, it is important that strengthening human rights protection becomes the objective of action: arrangements such as peace agreements that are built on respect for human rights and accountability provide guarantees and safeguards for the affected population and are more likely to achieve peace and development. In the case of natural disasters, a failure (by governments and others) to take reasonable preventive action, as well as to provide effective mitigation, is a human rights issue. Integrating human rights in the response will for example prevent discrimination in the distribution of aid, identify and address the situation of those most marginalised and vulnerable to abuse and propose appropriate measures. Integrating human rights at the core of humanitarian action strengthens the protection response and ensures that efforts are holistic and focused on the ‘affected population’ as a whole, rather than only certain segments of it. 

The Approach 

GPC Coordinator Letter on Human Rights Engagement 2022 

Protection clusters are already collecting a large amount of information related to issues affecting IDPs, but these protection issues may not be analysed using the human rights framework and tools where relevant. The lack of complementarity with and connections to the human rights framework, tools and mechanisms, may constrain protection clusters’ ability to leverage them for the benefit of IDPs and lead to duplication of reporting templates, tools and analysis. The protection clusters can achieve further predictability and encourage positive developments in the protection of internally displaced persons by strengthening its monitoring framework and protection monitoring systems in line with the human rights framework.  

The Global Protection Cluster is ensuring more systematic integration of the human rights mechanisms in the protection analysis and planning activities of field clusters and in support to the HCT protection strategies. The GPC and field protection clusters also work towards closing this gap by raising awareness and equipping protection officers, protection cluster members and Humanitarian Country Team members with the tools and information needed to make better use of the human rights system for the benefit of IDPs. 

The Task Team on Human Rights Engagement   

The Task Team on Human Rights Engagement are prioritising action in the following areas:   

Integrate human rights in planning activities at field protection clusters level: 

  • Strengthen clusters’ awareness of resources available and their capacity to utilise them more effectively. 

Use human rights tools to better monitor the respect for the human rights of IDPs: 

  • Ensure inclusion of human rights monitoring reporting within the protection monitoring system, where relevant so as to facilitate reporting at field level. 

  • Put in place a toolkit of human rights related indicators relevant to the protection clusters in the field. 

Use human rights mechanisms to raise awareness and advocate on behalf of the rights of IDPs: 

  • Enhance the guidance to field protection cluster on relevant factors to consider when deciding whether to contribute to a mechanism. 

  • Reinforce monitoring and contributions to thematic processes and initiatives in the context of Human Rights Council resolutions, Treaty Body General Comments/Recommendations and the work of the Special Procedures mandate holders, so as to ensure continued visibility of internal displacement in these processes. 

  • Step up advocacy at Geneva level towards UN human rights mechanisms, including jointly with key counterparts and at the diplomatic level, in support to strengthen advocacy in the field. 

  • Strengthen the strategic thinking process around the use of the human rights mechanisms, both in identifying the protection issues that could usefully be raised with the mechanism in question and, simultaneously, planning how any consequent recommendations could be integrated into existing advocacy efforts or in new initiatives. 

  • Devise and pilot targeted human rights interventions in specific country operations/contexts. 

Follow-up on human rights engagement on behalf of IDPs: 

  • Routinely evaluate the protection dividends of human rights engagement within a broader protection strategy and HCT protection strategy. 

Exchange knowledge and good practices with regard to the use of human rights 

  • Create a good practice portal (linked to or independent from the existing UNHCR human rights community of practice) that protection clusters would use to offer and learn from good examples of successful engagement with the human rights mechanisms. 


Human Rights in the Cluster Contexts

Video Message by UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Olivier de Schutter


Video message by the IE on sexual orientation and gender identity, Victor Madrigal-Borloz


William Chemaly GPC Human Rights Engagement TT HNPW Event 2021

Human Rights Engagement Task Team

Roberta Serrentino

GPC Human Rights Engagement Task Team Co-Chair

Isaiah Toroitich

GPC Human Rights Engagement Task Team Co-Chair
World Lutheran Federation

Elisa Gazzotti

GPC Human Rights Engagement Task Team Co-Chair
Soka Gakkai International