Why Gambia is not ideal to host Africa’s human rights watchdog

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham and Jonathan Fisher, University of Birmingham

When one thinks of human rights in Africa, The Gambia might spring to mind as an example of a country with a domestic record of grave violations. It is therefore rather surprising that the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights continues to be located in the country’s capital Banjul.

For the first seven years of its existence the commission’s hometown provided it with strong ideological support for its work. But in 1994 President Yahya Jammeh seized power. Since then the commission’s location has undermined its credibility and practical utility. Read more

Towards an alternative interpretation of UN immunity: A human rights-based approach to the Haiti Cholera Case

Rosa has co-authored an invited article on the Haiti Cholera Case with Nicolas Lemay-Hebert for Questions of International Law, an open-source peer-reviewed e-journal which aims to foster the debate on questions of public international law by providing a dynamic platform for scholars and practitioners.

Read Towards an alternative interpretation of UN immunity: A human rights-based approach to the Haiti Cholera Case at the QIL website.


How rights violators keep the UN Human Rights Council focused on Israel

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham

Another UN human rights report has been released about Israel and the human rights abuses it perpetrates in the Occupied Territories – yet another report that highlights ongoing violations of international law and that criticises state actors and organs, greeted with yet another symbolic resolution at the UN in Geneva. And of course, all the usual suspects are up in arms. Read more

Terror attacks on France and Tunisia are much more than a security issue

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham

‎As details emerge about an attack at a factory in France in which one person is dead and several injured, comparisons with the Charlie Hebdo killings in January are inevitable.

Following an explosion at a gas factory in Saint-Quentin-Fallavier, near Lyon, the body of a local businessman was found alongside a flag bearing Islamic inscriptions. Several suspects have been arrested, one of whom was thought to be known to police. Read more

New push to protect ‘family values’ is a brazen attack on human rights

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham

Once again, the Human Rights Council has been hijacked to promote the agendas of states who are trying to undermine the very same human rights the UN is supposed to protect.

A recently circulated draft resolution on “protection of the family” looks likely to be passed by the council, even though the text clearly plays into the hands of countries trying to make it legitimate to oppress individuals based on their gender or sexual orientation. Read more

The UN’s 15-year goals ignore LGBT rights yet again

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham

Negotiations on the UN’s 15-year development strategy, which involve all 193 member states, have at last produced a set of ambitious Sustainable Development Goals. These focus on social justice, poverty, human rights, development, and other related areas that require concerted effort over the coming years.

The goals incorporate strategies to protect and ensure the equality of individuals belonging to vulnerable groups – all individuals, that is, except those who belong to sexual orientation or gender identity minorities.  Read more

French peacekeeper abuse scandal fits an old pattern of impunity

Rosa Freedman, University of Birmingham

EDITOR’S NOTE: After this article was published, it became clear that the report it mentions is not about UN peacekeepers. It is about the French forces based in CAR, part of the French-led military operation known as Operation Sangaris. They were authorised by the UN Security Council in December 2013, but do not operate under the leadership of the UN Department of Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO). The article has been updated to make this distinction clear.

The article also originally stated that the report had been leaked to the advocacy group Aids-Free World. This was inaccurate, and has been corrected.

It has emerged that a UN senior humanitarian aid worker has been suspended for leaking an internal report on child abuse committed by French peacekeepers in the Central African Republic (CAR).

The details that emerge from the report, Sexual Abuse on Children by International Armed Forces, show that once again, UN-sanctioned forces have abused their position and power to prey on vulnerable individuals in the most horrific circumstances. Read more