collaboration ohchr

New cooperation: RWI and OHCHR to address inequalities

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UN Human Rights) and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights (RWI) have entered into a unique cooperation agreement.

RWI will support in growing the OHCHR’s Surge Initiative to combat inequalities in the shadow of the Covid-19 Pandemic and beyond.  

The partnership was inspired by Sustainable Development Goal 17; the joint effort will “strengthen the means of implementation” and will be part of the revitalization of global partnerships for sustainable development.

UN Human Rights turned to RWI to work together on the challenging task of rebuilding societies affected by the pandemic, through strengthening the respect for human rights. There will be a particular focus on economic rights.

The Covid-19 pandemic has brought into focus human rights violations related to aggravated societal inequalities. States’ lack of previous investments in social infrastructure, for example public health, has thrust millions of people into poverty throughout the pandemic.

This has led to escalating social protests and profound question about how to build forward fairer.

An important tool of UN Human Rights to contribute to achieving the SDGs and respect for pre-existing economic rights is the Surge Initiative, which helps to operationalize the Secretary-General’s call for a “new social contract”.

The Surge Initiative engages with the UN Development System with the goal to bring about a better understanding of how decisions related to the economy, when made within a human rights lens, can underpin a stronger economic development. It also strives to show how human rights can create a more inclusive economy of those traditionally left behind, generate societal well-being, greater resilience and preparedness for adversity.

In short, a human right-based approach to economics contributing to a human rights economy.

Read more: Blog post by Todd Howland 

Nada Al-Nashif, Deputy UN High Commissioner for Human Rights:

UN Human Rights has a wealth of norms, interpretations and standards related to how societies should act to facilitate achieving the SDGs and improving the level of respect for human rights.  But UN Human Rights is just one actor in a much larger human rights eco-system.  To meet the challenges we are facing today, we need multiple partnerships as implementation of human rights and the SDGs can be hugely important tools to build forward fairer.

We are pleased to enter into this path breaking partnership with RWI, as together we can contribute more to the unprecedented opportunities for human rights that this moment presents us.

The partnership between RWI and UN Human Right’s Surge Initiative is conceived as a pilot project that hopefully will expand. Working with RWI, will allow the Surge Initiative to obtain an even greater effect on the human rights landscape, as proven by the innovations and positive results produced by past collaborations between the RWI and OHCHR.

In order to carry out this project, a group of innovative human rights-economists will conduct country analyses across regions from a macroeconomic and human rights perspective. The aim is to improve the level of respect for and enjoyment of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, creating greater inclusion from a “leave no one behind” lens, and combating economic and other inequalities. All with the aim to develop concrete ways societies can build forward fairer.

Director of the RWI Morten Kjaerum:

We are proud that UN Human Rights has chosen to work with us and are looking forward to supporting the UN Human Rights in this tireless fight against inequality and disrespect for human rights. We believe that our human rights expertise, our presence and strong partnerships in many countries at all continents as well as our academic networks jointly will contribute to the realization of this project.

About us

We are based in Lund, Sweden, and maintain a combination of evidence-based human rights research with direct engagement to create concrete and lasting human rights change. We are network-based, creating impact through strong partnerships and key international networks. Currently, we employ around 60 staff members located in Istanbul, Jakarta, Lund, Nairobi, Phnom Penh, Beijing, Harare and Stockholm, generating and disseminating research and concrete results from the regions in which we work.

Read more: Todd Howland “Seeding Change for a Human Rights Economy” On the importance of macroeconomic policies


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