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Institute hosts high profile human rights conference

As this year marks the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, a reflection on the current state of Human Rights' prevention and protection schemes seems particularly appropriate. Thus, on 7-8 February 2008, the British Institute of International and Comparative Law and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law, jointly held a conference on human rights within the international framework.

The two-day conference opened with a keynote address by Thomas Hammarberg, who introduced many issues that would be further discussed by the eminent speakers and attendees. The Council of Europe Commissioner for Human Rights stressed that '[t]he international reach of the human rights protection is an obvious part of the principles that all human beings have the same inherent value and that the rights are universal.' He continued by raising concerns related to the implementation gap, the independence of monitoring mechanisms, the allocation of sufficient resources, or the efficiency of existing structures. While highlighting the shortcomings of the international human rights protection system, he also presented paths that should be explored to ameliorate this system.

Next, the conference focussed on the complaint mechanisms of human rights violations, analysing individual complaints as well as the UN complaint procedures. Particular attention was given to the challenges faces by the European Court of Human Rights and the newly established Human Rights Council. The first day of the conference wrapped up with presentations on the role of international organisations with regard to investigating human rights violations.

The second day started with the question of jurisdiction and the extraterritorial reach of human rights law, discussing cases such as Bankovic. Afterwards, issues specific to the rights of minority groups and the risk of interethnic conflicts were presented. The conference ended on a high note with a discussion chaired by Ambassador Hans Corell, which offered an opportunity both to all the speakers and delegates to identify possible actions both at the national and at the international level to advance the protection of human rights.

To view the conference programme, click here.

To view the discussion points raised at the final session of the Conference, which was chaired by Ambassador Hans Corell, click here.

To view a letter from Ambassador Hans Corell to Mr Georg Kell, Executive Director of Global Compact, concerning the conference, click here.

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