Human Rights in Times of Challenge: A New Social Contract – Join the World Human Rights Cities Forum 2021


The World Human Rights Cities Forum 2021, hosted by the city of Gwangju, and co-organised between the Gwangju International Center, RWI and UCLG CISPD, takes place between October 6 and 10. For more information on the sessions in which we participate, please see further down below.
This year, the theme “Human Rights in Times of Challenge: A New Social Contract” will be at heart of the forum. 

How to participate

All of the sessions are open for anyone and broadcasted in real time through Zoom. Through WHRCF’s website you can see the session schedule and join the livestreams. To participate, simply press the session you want to join and fill out the registration form.  

Furthermore, the WHRCF has launched an online discussion platform, where you can leave your comments and share your thoughts on the topic and content of each session. 

Our speakers

Alejandro Fuentes
Alejandro Fuentes is a Senior Researcher at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law. His research focuses on international human rights law, in particular on international and regional systems of human rights protection, cultural diversity and identity, groups, minority and indigenous people rights, and human rights education. He has authored a book on Cultural diversity and indigenous peoples’ land claims: argumentative dynamics and jurisprudential approach in the Americas (Trento University, 2012). He is a regular peer-reviewer of international scientific journals, including the Journal on Minority and Groups Rights and the Nordic Journal of International law, Brill Nijhoff, Leiden/Boston. 

Morten Kjaerum
Morten Kjaerum has been Director of the Raoul Wallenberg Institute of Human Rights and Humanitarian Law in Sweden since 2015. In 2013, he was awarded an honorary professorship at the University of Aalborg, Denmark. Mr Kjaerum was the first Director of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA) in Vienna, Austria from 2008 to 2015 and he was Director of the Danish Institute for Human Rights (DIHR) from 1991 to 2008 and developed it within 17 years from a small organisation to a large internationally recognized institution. He started his career in the non-governmental sector at the Danish Refugee Council.


Windi Arini
Windi Arini is a Programme Officer at RWI’s Jakarta Office and works within the Inclusive Societies focus area. Windi holds a Master of Philosophy in Theory and Practice of Human Rights from the University of Oslo. Prior to joining RWI, se worked as a Human Rights Officer at the ASEAN Secretariat and as a Programme Manager for a law office.





Helena Olsson

Helena Olsson has a Master Degree in Political Science with focus on Human Rights, Peace and Democracy from Lund University. She has worked with development, human rights and in the humanitarian field since 2001, for Swedish Embassies/Sida and UNHCR in Central and South America; at Sida Headquarters Humanitarian Team in Stockholm; and subsequently with academic institutions and NHRIs in Sub-Saharan Africa; Middle East and North Africa; and South/Southeast Asia since she joined the Institute in 2010.


Wednesday 6th of October

10.00-11.00: Human Rights Paper Presentations

The thematic for this specific presentation is Human Rights Cities’ Responses to the COVID-19 Pandemic: Localization of Human Rights Based Solutions for the Development of Inclusive Societies. It will touch upon on the theme of “Human Rights in Times of Challenge: A New Social Contract”, paying special attention to the effects generated by the global COVID-19 pandemic at local and regional levels. The contribution of cities and local governments gained a central relevance in dealing with these socio-economic effects generated by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Mary Levine [USA, Researcher of Center for the Study of Humanitarian Law at RULE]
Stefanny Justinico [Colombia, LLM of Northeastern University School of Law]
Pilar Espinosa [Mexico, Founder of Radiografías por Mexico]
Michelle C. Castillo [Philippines, Researcher of UPNCPAG Center for Local and Regional Governance]
Marie Chan-Tayo [Philippines, Researcher of UPNCPAG Center for Local and Regional Governance]
Shahnawaz [Pakistan, Doctoral Student of Sogang University ]
Boravin Tann [Cambodia, Lecturer of Royal University of Law and Economics]
Sophorn Tuy [Cambodia, Researcher of Center for the Study of Humanitarian Law at RULE]
Giovanni Hutauruk [Indonesia, Student of Lampung University]
Md. Saimum Talukder [Bangladesh, Senior Lecturer of BRAC University School of Law] Joanna Arriola [Philippines, Communication Strategist of WiseOwl Management Consultancy]
Michaella Ortega [Philippines, Communication Manager of WiseOwl Management Consultancy]
Alireza Azadfar [Iran, Researcher of Sistan and Bluchestan University]
Livia Perschy [Austria, Junior Researcher of European Training and Research Centre for HR and Democracy]
Emma Lennhammer [Sweden, Postgraduate Student in Human Rights Law of Bristol University]
Tatenda Kerina Zvobgo [Zimbabwe, Legal Intern of Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum]
Lynnet Phiri [Zimbabwe, Legal Projects Associate of Zimbabwe Human Rights NGO Forum]

Register here

11.30- 13.30 & 14.00-15.35: Blended Learning Course on Local Governments and Human Rights (BLC)

This BLC is aimed at introducing the concepts, experiences, and network on localizing human rights in the SDGs process to the local governments across Asia Pacific, members of UCLG ASPAC, and how to leverage it in reshaping city planning to achieve sustainable and more inclusive recovery for urban resilience. The 2021 BLC participants include 22 officials of local governments from the Asia-Pacific region representing the Philippines, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Maldives and Kiribati. 

Seree Nonthasoot [Thailand, Committee Member of UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights]

19.00- 21.00: Human Rights and Economy

In this session we will go deeper into questions of economic models and structures as factors in current “times of challenge” and concrete attempts to operationalize a New Social Contract. As stated in the concept note for this year’s Forum: “…the ways forward depend strongly on the protection of human rights and public services’ in the face of multiple challenges. Local and regional governments are at the front line to respond to these challenges.” 

Thursday 7th of October

14.00- 15.00: Youth TALK

Cities play a pivotal role in creating social inclusion, equal access, and opportunities for their inhabitants to mitigate climate change and prevent its negative impact on human rights. At the same time, however, exclusion and inequality are widespread in cities. When cities fail to take affirmative measures to prevent human rights impacts caused by climate change, local governments put the most vulnerable at even more significant risks. Youth are often being excluded in decision-making processes while being among the most susceptible to the effects of climate change. When given a chance, active, informed, and involved urban youth can respond better to the global challenges and offer their knowledge to address local impacts.

RWI recognises youth as solution contributors to climate change and seeks to collaborate with young people to amplify their voices. Cities and local governments must also open their doors and work together with youth to address the many challenges climate change have posed to cities. Young people could bring climate change mitigation and adaptation alternatives that promote inclusion and participation in policy formulation.

Register here

Friday 8th of October

13.30-15.00: RWI Handbook on Local Governments and Human Rights Event

The impact of Covid-19 to vulnerable groups highlights the need for a new approach – a change. A human rights-based approach (HRBA) would not only help cities to pave a new way for a more resilient city but also address structural discrimination, inequality, and exclusion. But how to do it? 
Flowing off from RWI’s 2019 studies of localizing human rights and environment in the context of SDGs in five city sites across Asia, RWI develop Localizing human rights in the context of SDGs: a handbook for cities in 2021 together with its university partners in Bandung and Lampung-Indonesia, and Nagpur-India. With this handbook, RWI aim to demystifying the concept of human rights city and provide a practical guide for local governments to operationalize national human rights commitment at the local level with active participation of stakeholders towards achieving the SDGs. 

Ichal Supriadi [Thailand, Secretery-General of Asia Democracy Network (ADN)]
Hajerati [Indonesia, Director of Human Rights Cooperation of Ministry of Law and Human Rights of the Republic of Indonesia]
Morten KJÆRUM [Denmark, Director of Raoul Wallenberg Institute]

Register here

16.00-18.00:  Plenary session 2

The idea of a social contract assumes that political legitimacy comes from the consent of people to be led by and loyal to their leaders based on agreed principles of governance, without which there is no right to exercise power. Where global and national (and local) institutions have failed to live up to the principles of this agreement, legitimacy wanes. The New Social Contract would aim to reset the foundations of national and global governance by recognizing the equal human rights of all as founding principles, addressing inequalities that erode these rights, and then seeking to ensure that governance proceeds in line with agreed principles.

The plenary session will introduce reasons why, and how, human rights can and must become a core pillar of this new deal. It will do so both broadly and from the perspectives of local government leaders, setting the stage for deeper reflections in the sessions that will follow in the days of the forum. 

Olivier De Schutter [UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights] Mamadou Lamine Keita [Senegal, Mayor of Bignona] Benjamin Magalong [Philippines, Mayor of Baguio] Anne Kananu Mwenda [Kenya, Governor of Nairobi County] SOH Chang-rok [Committee Member of UN Human Rights Committee] Marie-Louise Rönnmark [Sweden, Mayor of Umea City]

Register here

18.30 – 20.30: International human rights policy session

In the session we will look at what role corruption has played in this lack of trust, and the extent to which the impact of corruption on human rights has been a factor. We will also link the discussion to setbacks or progress of local democracy, as well as to the dialogue and interplay between local and federal governments. Democracy is relevant to the session as strong democracies typically have lower levels of corruption, and as corruption tends to decline when democratic institutions and rights-holders (directly) work together to hold officials accountable. 

Helena Olsson [Sweden, Senior Programme Officer of Raoul Wallenberg Institute]
Martin Mulwa [Keyna, Economist of UN Office of the High Commissioner of Human Rights]
Charles Ayamodo [Ghana, Director of Anti-Corruption of Commission on Human Rights and Administrative Justice of Ghana]
SEO Cheol-mo [Korea, Mayor of Hwaseong City]
Helena Stenberg [Sweden, Mayor of Pitea City]
Anna Mu’awanah [Indonesia, Mayor of Bojonegoro]

Register here

Saturday 9th of October

13.00- 15.00: BLC projects presentations session

As part of the BLC programme, participants are developing an action plan on how they will transfer their new knowledge and networks into their daily programme and responsibility in their region. Duration for this course project is July-September 2021. Based on assessment by co-organisers, five (5) promising projects are selected and will be shared in a side-event at the 11th World Human Rights City Forum.

Joyce Sy [Philippines, Planning Officer II of Makati City] Maolen Karla Boholano [Philippines, Project Evaluation Officer IV of City of Calamba] Soleil Erika Manzano [Philippines, Program Officer of Special Projects Programs, Project and Policy Department of Quezon City] Flordelis Jubay [Philippines, City Planning and Development Officer of Island Garden City of Samal] Maria Beth Saida Manlapaz [Philippines, Planning Officer IV of Malabon City]

16.00 – 17.00: BLC closing event

Joyce Sy [Philippines, Planning Officer II of Makati City]
Maolen Karla Boholano [Philippines, Project Evaluation Officer IV of City of Calamba]
Soleil Erika Manzano [Philippines, Program Officer of Special Projects Programs, Project and Policy Department of Quezon City]
Flordelis Jubay [Philippines, City Planning and Development Officer of Island Garden City of Samal]
Maria Beth Saida Manlapaz [Philippines, Planning Officer IV of Malabon City]
Jo Honey Ado [Philippines, Clerk I or City Planning & Development of Tagum City]
Luz Laureta-Balisong [Philippines, Baguio City]
April Jane Rosario [Philippines, Planning Officer II of Island Garden City of Samal]
Merewyn Sadjail [Philippines, Proiect Development Officer II of City Planning & Development Office of Isabela City]
Nurul Hidayah Binti Zawawi [Malaysia, Town Planner of Kuala Lumpur]
Katrina Orticio [Philippines, Social Welfare Officer III of Masbate City]

Sunday 10th of October

16.00-17.00: Closing Ceremony

Closing Remarks:
KIM Jonghyo [Korea, Deputy Mayor for Administrative Affairs, Gwangju Metropolitan City]

To learn more about the forum, visit the WHRCF website

Share with your friends
Scroll to top