There is no universal definition of a Human Rights City, but in short, it is a place where local government, local parliament, civil society, private sector and other stakeholders ensure the application of international human rights standards.

Why do we need human rights cities?

Life happens in the cities and local communities. Be it in an urban or rural area, it is at the local level where social, political and economic issues come into being, where policies are translated into concrete actions, and where rights are vindicated.

Today’s world is witnessing an ever growing emphasis on the relevance of cities accompanied by the understanding that they are in a strategic position to address both local and global issues. Inclusion, sustainability, gender equality, environment, accessibility, good governance, delivery of public services, human rights – the local level is the meeting point for all these issues. Human rights cities harness the strategic position of the local level to address such issues. It is the means to design better policies and empower individuals by guaranteeing that international human rights standards are translated to the local level.

A human rights city places the individual in the center, so that people are empowered to understand and claim their rights, as well as participate in decisions that affect them. Aware of the relevance of such approach, cities from all around the world have already begun taking steps into becoming human rights cities. Examples are York, in the United Kingdom, Eugene, in the United States, Jakarta, in Indonesia, Barcelona, in Spain, Rosario, in Argentina, Gwangju, in South Korea, and Lund, in Sweden.

Our work

RWI is committed to advancing the human rights city concept both in Sweden and worldwide. We combine research with practice to provide academic expertise to the needs and priorities of practitioners, as well as to inform our research based on lessons learned. Such knowledge exchanges have already resulted in a publication on the Swedish and international perspectives on human rights cities and regions.

RWI also supports policy development on Human Rights Cities. An example of this is the Swedish platform for policy and operational development of human rights at a local and regional level, which elaborates on characteristics and how to develop and perform as a human rights city in Sweden. The platform was developed and adopted by the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) with the support of RWI. The platform is now being tested by seven municipalities in Sweden. RWI is commissioned by SALAR to research on the processes in these municipalities.

RWI is also working with the concept of Human Rights cities in Turkey and in Indonesia with different partners and is closely following and participating in the global development of concept and implementation of Human Rights cities.

For more information about the project, please contact:

Gabriella Fredriksson

Team Leader, Inclusive Societies

+46 46 222 12 13