Non-Discrimination and Inclusion: Human Rights Cities

The Raoul Wallenberg Institute (RWI) work with cities around the world to help them integrate human rights-based approaches in service delivery and into local Sustainable Development Goal plans, often working within a Human Rights City framework. One key aim is to address inequality and ensure that development benefits and includes all segments of society.  

Inclusive and accountable cities: Human Rights Cities

While this framework refers to ‘cities’, it can also be applied to towns and other forms of local government. These include municipalities and metropolitan areas, as well as forms of the regional government, such as counties, provinces or regions. Together with financiers, construction companies, and architects we work to ensure that stakeholders consider human rights in the planning and realisation of new districts and buildings. In 2021, we joined and discussed concrete projects in this respect in Bergen, Helsingborg, Copenhagen, and Utrecht. 

In 2018, Lund, the city where the RWI headquarters is located, became Sweden’s first Human Rights City. In 2021 the work continued within the network of human rights experts working at regional and local levels in Sweden. The network, that is co-hosted by the Jönköping County Council and RWI, meets three to four times a year to discuss current challenges and developments. 

Localising Human Rights in the Context of SDGs: A Handbook for Cities

A noteworthy publication developed under the regional programme in the Asia and Pacific in 2021 was Localising Human Rights in the Context of SDGs: a handbook for cities (published in February 2022). 

Windi Arini, Programme Officer at the RWI Regional Asia and Pacific Office in Jakarta emphasises that the handbook:

“highlights the importance of embedding a human rights-based approach into local governance to achieve the SDGs. It is intended to encourage local governments to take the first steps toward implementing human rights at the local level. It is a foundational tool for achieving an applied understanding of the Human Rights Cities concept ”. 

World Human Rights Cities Forum

RWI co-organised The World Human Rights Cities Forum 2021, hosted by the city of Gwangju, together with the Gwangju International Center, UCLG CISPD, UN High Commissioner for Human rights and UNESCO. The 2021 conference theme was “Human Rights in Times of Challenge: A New Social Contract”. The Forum was opened by the UN Secretary General and the High Commissioner for Human Rights. 

Among other things, RWI Senior Researcher, Dr Alejandro Fuentes, Chonnan National University and the Gwangju International Center facilitated the Human Rights Paper Session, during which both junior and senior researchers presented and discussed seventeen research papers. The discussions revolved around the role of cities and local authorities in dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic. 

Working with Human Rights Cities in Turkey

In Turkey, RWI sought to support and strengthen work and activities concerning human rights at the local level throughout 2021. We developed three guidebooks as part of the cooperation around human rights cities. 

“Cooperating at the municipal level in Turkey in 2021, resulted in the establishment of an equality unit in Mersin Metropolitan Municipality. It was coupled with an inclusive local gender equality action plan for three years, as well as a child-friendly justice forum under the coordination of the Child Rights Research Laboratory and Child Rights Clinic at Özyegin University”, says the Chief Consultant of the Turkey Programme, Ilhami Alkan-Olsson.

Find the complete Year In Review here. Read more about how we are working with a Human Rights City framework.

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