We began this work to contribute to a wider understanding of and respect for human rights and international humanitarian law in 1984.
Since then, we’ve continued to expand, redefine and reinvent the approach. New challenges means actors like us must constantly develop ourselves to be as effective and relevant as possible.
To stay flexible and innovative, in 2016 we created a unit that works on important cross-cutting human rights issues. This is a place to further develop key issues that need to be mainstreamed into all of our work, or that may even potentially become a new focus area on their own. The themes and issues we work with in the Greenhouse are also all cross-cutting and addressed in much of our work.
Today, we have three major issues that we are working with in the Greenhouse: Human Rights and Corruption, Gender Equality, and Human Rights Education.
We have actively been promoting gender equality through integrating a gender equality perspective through our work during our 30 years of existence.
By addressing human rights and gender equality together, the Institute concentrates on their common and complimentary aspects. This approach comes from an understanding that gender equality and non-discrimination are human rights, and that human rights include gender-related human rights.
Unfortunately, the significance of gender is often underestimated. Gender is a social construction that has massive influence on how the world functions today. Gender stereotypes and norms are root causes of societal inequalities and gender based discrimination, which in turn can translate into shunted life experiences and very serious life situations, such as gender based poverty, gender based violence, discrepancy in life expectancy, unequal access to justice, education gap, pay gap, pension gap and many other significant limitations to human rights. On a continuum, these experiences influence everybody’s life. Gender is always present and must be taken into account at all times.
We acknolwedge the key significance of gender relations on sustainable development. We are dedicated to gender equality as part of our commitment to human rights. We share the outlook of Agenda 2030 on gender equality: “Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous and sustainable world.”
This means that gender equality is a goal in itself as well as a precondition for the achievement of all of the 17 sustainable development goals. Gender based discrimination and inequality is a major obstacle to the advancement of all human rights. Without gender equality other human rights advancements will not be meaningful and sustainable.
We form our conceptual understanding and work in conformity with continuously developing gender equality theory. We understand gender equality as the equal enjoyment of rights, responsibilities and opportunities of all individuals regardless of gender. Gender equality does not mean that all individuals will become the same, but that the rights, responsibilities and opportunities of the individual will not depend on one’s gender. It refers to all individuals having equal choice and power to shape society and their own lives. Gender equality is both a human right and a precondition for, and indicator of sustainable development
Human Rights and Corruption
We are expanding our efforts to address the relationship between corruption and human rights. The overall objective is to contribute to a human rights-based society that is free from corruption by strengthening the capacity of key actors in society to prevent corruption by applying a human rights based approach.
Today it is widely recognized that there is a clear relationship between corruption and the enjoyment of human rights and that corruption is one of the biggest impediments globally for the realisation of human rights.
Corruption contributes to divert funds aimed for investment in public services, erodes the rule of law, distorts justice systems, interferes with political processes and affects delivery of public services such as the right to education and access to adequate health care, just to give a few examples. Thus, corruption has an impact on both civil and political rights and economic, social and cultural rights.
Fighting corruption is a long-term process that requires an integrated and holistic approach that in addition to classical criminal justice responses also calls for key institutional reforms as well as changes in ethical frameworks and cultural patterns.
Transparent societies with a high level of freedom of information and expression, meaningful public participation in political processes, justice systems and institutions that are fair, effective and accountable and a vibrant and active civil society functioning as a watchdogs and raising awareness on corruption are indeed all important building blocks in the fight against corruption.
These types of socities can jointly contribute to break the vicious circle where corruption and human rights violations reinforce each other and instead contribute towards a positive spiral where opportunities for corruption are minimized through more human rights responsive societies, thus also reducing corruption related human rights violations.
It is therefore possible to argue for the application of a human rights based approach for the prevention of and fight against corruption. This would mean that the international system for promotion and protection of human rights is used as one of the corner stones, integrating international human rights standards and principles, including empowerment, non-discrimination and equality, participation and inclusion, transparency and accountability in the fight against corruption. It would also entail that the claims of the rights holder and the corresponding obligations of the duty bearer in this respect are emphasized and clarified, for example through training and awareness raising programmes.
The Raoul Wallenberg Institute will expand on its efforts to address the relationship between corruption and human rights.
To achieve this, the Raoul Wallenberg Institute will
• Identify and communicate the negative impact of corruption on the enjoyment of human rights
• Identify and develop human rights based responses aimed at preventing corruption