The development of international standards & guidelines

ruleoflaw

 

 Over the past several years, members of the Institute have been involved—in some cases instrumental—in the development of standards and guidelines (“soft law”) on a number of contempora ry challenges.  These documents have in many cases already had significant impacts upon debates—and even practice—in their relevant subject-areas.

On this page we highlight the documents, and selected examples of their discussion.  In some cases there are more detailed pages also on the ICLA site, linked below.

UN Human Rights Committee ~ General Comment No.37 on the right of peaceful assembly (2019-)

The UN Human Rights Committee is currently developing a General Comment on article 21 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, on freedom of assembly. Prof Heyns serves as Rapporteur for the new General Comment.

A full page dedicated to General Comment No.37 is available here.

pdf Thai(unofficial translation)


United Nations Human Rights Guidance on Less-Lethal Weapons in Law Enforcement (2017-19)

Following up recommendations made in several of his reports as Special Rapporteur concerning the apparent space left by the UN Basic Principles on the Use of Force and Firearms when it comes to the use of weapons other than firearms by law enforcement officials, Prof. Heyns, along with Prof. Maslen and Dr Probert, worked closely with the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights to develop dedicated Human Rights Guidance on the subject.

A full page dedicated to Guidance is available here  

The Guidance is available in the following (official) languages:
pdf English (Other UN official languages forthcoming)

In September 2019, Dr Thomas Probert presented as part of a panel hosted by the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria about the use of less-lethal weapons in South Africa.  Video of the event is available here.

In May 2020, EJIL Talk posted a discussion piece by Dr Abi Dymond and Neil Corney—two long-term collaborators of the Institute, who were both involved in the elaboration of the Guidance—elaborating the implications of the Guidance for states’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In July 2020, in the midst of widespread protests in the USA about police use of force, Prof Christof Heyns, Prof. Stuart Maslen and Dr Thomas Probert published a Just Security blog about the new Guidance


UN International Law Commission ~ Draft conclusions on peremptory norms of general international law (jus cogens) (2015-19)
At its sixty-seventh session (2015), the Commission decided to include the topic “Jus cogens” in its programme of work and appointed Prof. Dire Tladi as Special Rapporteur for the topic. Over the coming four years Prof. Tladi prepared four reports on various dimensions of this topic:

pdf First Report (A/CN.4/693) pdf Second Report (A/CN.4/706)    pdf Third Report (A/CN.4/714)    pdf Fourth Report (A/CN.4/727)

In 2019, the International Law Commission then adopted a set of 23 Draft Conclusions on Peremptory Norms of General International Law (Jus Cogens) on first reading:
pdf  Draft Conclusions on Peremptory Norms of General International Law (Jus Cogens) (A/74/10)


United Nations Human Rights Committee General Comment No.36 on the right to life (2016-18)
From 2016-2018 the UN Human Rights Committee developed a general comment on the right to life.  This drew heavily upon work undertaken by staff at ICLA—principally Prof. Christof Heyns as Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions (until 2016) and then as member of the Committee, but also upon the work of Prof. Stuart Maslen and Dr Thomas Probert, supporting those initiatives.  The General Comment provides an authoritative interpretation by the treaty body responsible for the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights of how this fundamental human right should be understood with reference to that instrument.

The General Comment is available in the following (official) languages:

pdf English pdf French pdf Spanish  pdf Chinese  pdf Arabic  pdf Russian


United Nations Minnesota Protocol on the Investigation of Potentially Unlawful Death (2014-16)

Over the course of Prof. Heyns’ mandate as Special Rapporteur, it became clear that the UN Manual on the Prevention and Investigation of Extra-Legal, Arbitrary and Summary Executions (sometimes known as the “Minnesota Protocol”) was a vital document for the work of the mandate, providing what was at one time the “gold standard” for the investigation of potentially unlawful death.  But the document was in need of revision to accommodate more recent technological and legal developments in order to ensure that it continued to add value in the pursuit of effective accountability for violations of the right to life.

A full page dedicated to the process of revising the Minnesota Protocol, and examples of its use, is available here.

The Minnesota Protocol is available in the following (official) languages:

pdf English pdf French pdf Spanish  pdf Chinese  pdf Arabic  pdf Russian

It is also available in the following unofficial translations:

pdf Thai  pdf Burmese

In May 2017 Prof. Christof Heyns published a blog on Just Security discussing the impact of the revised Minnesota Protocol.
Also in May 2017, Dr Jan Hessbruegge (of OHCHR’s New York office) published an EJIL Talk blog about the salient contributions of the revised document.


Human Rights Council ~ “Joint Report” of two Special Rapporteurs on the management of assemblies (2014-16)

In 2014, in Resolution 25/38, the UN Human Rights Council mandated Prof. Heyns (as Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions) along with his fellow Special Rapporteur Maina Kia (Special Rapporteur on the rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association) to undertake a special report aimed at providing the Council with practical recommendations on the management of peaceful assemblies.

A full discussion of the process can be found here, along with links to the publicity and awareness-raising work undertaken by the Office of the Special Rapporteur on the rights of freedom of peaceful assembly and of association.
The Joint report is available in the following (official) languages:

pdf English pdf French pdf Spanish  pdf Chinese  pdf Arabic  pdf Russian

It is also available in the following unofficial translations:

pdf Hindi   pdf Khmer  pdf Korean  pdf Thai  pdf Japanese

 


African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights General Comment No.3 on the right to life (2014-15)

One of Prof. Heyns’ priorities as UN Special Rapporteur was to work closely with regional mechanisms, and, guided by the Addis Ababa Roadmap, this was particularly the case with the African Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights (for which the Centre for Human Rights has a long and proud track record of providing technical assistance). In this regard Prof. Heyns, and members of staff at what was then known as the Unlawful Killings Unit were delighted to provide assistance to the Commission as it considered the adoption of a general comment on the right to life. The Unit provided a Resource Pack for the members of the relevant Working Group, and assisted in the facilitation of two drafting meetings, in Kigali and in Geneva, to work on the draft text.

The General Comment is available in the following (official) languages:

pdf English   pdf French   pdf Portuguese   pdf Arabic

In 2015, Dr Thomas Probert published a blog-piece on Just Security about the salience of the General Comment
In 2017 Prof. Christof Heyns and Dr Thomas Probert published a chapter in a volume edited by Prof. Dire Tladi and others, on the way the General Comment had clarified the right.