Violence against women: UK ratifies Istanbul Convention but excludes protection for migrants
The UK ratified the Council of Europe Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence (known as the ‘Istanbul Convention’) in late July, ten years after first signing it.
However, the UK has been criticised for reserving the right not to be bound by Article 59, which compels states to protect migrant women whose residency status is dependent on that of an abusive spouse or partner, including by suspending deportation proceedings to allow victims to apply for residence permits.
Abortion rights: Regressive developments in Poland and US go against global trend
In Poland, pregnant people face heightened scrutiny following an order from the Health Minister, signed in early June, requiring doctors to register all pregnancies in the country. Information collected will include past or current illnesses, medical visits, treatment and blood type. In light of Poland’s near-total abortion ban, there are fears the register could be weaponised to monitor pregnancy outcomes and persecute women suspected of having abortions or suspected abortion providers – particularly as the information can be accessed by the Polish prosecutor’s office through a court order.
Declining fertility rates and the threat to human rights
Facing low fertility rates that could undermine labour forces and social structures, governments are pursuing labour reforms, immigration expansion and pronatalist policies. Global Insight explores the impact of such policies on human rights and gender equality.
Column: Bearing witness - the Uyghur Tribunal hears claims of genocide
Over the past year, the Uyghur Tribunal in London has broken with tradition by hearing evidence of an alleged genocide while the atrocity is said to be ongoing. As the Tribunal prepares to hand down its judgment on whether China is committing genocide against ethnic minorities in Xinjiang, Global Insight reviews the proceedings.
Migration: climate breakdown drives internal displacement to record 55 million
Despite restrictions on movement resulting from the Covid-19 pandemic, 2020 saw the highest number of people becoming internally displaced in a decade, at 40.5 million. The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) globally reached a record 55 million in December 2020, according to a report from the Norwegian Refugee Council’s Internal Displacement Monitoring Centre.
Although 85 per cent of all known IDPs have fled conflict, disasters caused more than three-quarters of 2020’s new displacements. Of those, 98 per cent were triggered by weather-related hazards, such as storms and floods, which are increasing in intensity and frequency due to factors including climate breakdown.
LGBTI rights: transfemicide ruling has far-reaching implications across Latin America
In late June, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled that the state of Honduras was responsible for the death of transwoman and activist Vicky Hernández, in the first transfemicide case to come before the Court.
Feature: Fighting transfemicide in the Americas
In Honduras and across Latin America, transgender women don’t tend to live past 35. Thanks to social stigma reinforced by a lack of rights and legal protections, they face extreme violence and limitations on the scope of their lives.
The murder of one trans woman – Vicky Hernández – over 12 years ago has shone a spotlight on the deadly nature of state-sanctioned discrimination. Now, the landmark ruling in her case could change the lives of transgender people across the Americas.
Black Lives Matter: civil rights advocates warn against complacency after Chauvin guilty verdict
In April, former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was convicted of the murder and manslaughter of George Floyd, who was Black. Floyd was arrested by Chauvin and three other officers in May 2020, on suspicion of trying to use a fake $20 bill. Chauvin, who is white, knelt on Floyd’s neck for over nine minutes.
Pandemic accelerates need for comprehensive efforts to tackle child marriage
By disrupting children’s education and exposing families to financial crises, the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the threat of human rights violations like child marriage around the world. Research by the United Nations Population Fund and partners estimates that an additional 13 million child marriages will take place between 2020 and 2030, which would not have occurred were it not for the pandemic.
Feature: Policing the world in the 21st century
Who do you call when you can’t call the police? That question is being asked by Black Lives Matter advocates calling for police abolition, and by domestic violence victims who aren’t believed by law enforcement. But it should be a question asked by the international legal community when it comes to the policing and prosecution of crimes on a global level, including in business, in war and regarding abuses of human rights.
Sanctions: UK launches post-Brexit regime amid concerns about trade ties
In July the British Government announced the first wave of targets of its new, post-Brexit sanctions regime. Forty-nine individuals and organisations have been targeted, meaning they are banned from entering the United Kingdom, channelling money through UK banks or ‘profiting from our economy’, as the government announcement stated.
Column: Inequality before the law
Lady Justice is often depicted blindfolded to represent key tenets of the rule of law: independence and impartiality. These ideals are enshrined in Article 7 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states: ‘All are equal before the law and are entitled without any discrimination to equal protection of the law.’ But reality tells a very different story.
Genocide: China’s reported persecution of Uighurs exposes states’ legal obligations under international conventions
Over the past three years, witness testimonies, investigations, leaked footage, papers and data have painted a picture of systematic state persecution of the Uighur population in China’s Xinjiang region...
Feature: Digital transformation and human rights
A digital transformation of governance is taking hold of the world. While this may have some benefits, the rate of change and lack of industry regulation raises human rights concerns. Welfare states have been swept up in the wave of transformation...
Poverty: UN rapporteur calls for recognition of social rights in UK
In July 2019, Professor Philip Alston, UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, presented the UN Human Rights Council with a 21-page report on his mission to the UK, in which he highlighted the UK government’s ‘dismantling of the social safety net’ and ‘clear violations of the country’s human rights obligations’...
Sexual offence laws: Ireland launches review of complainant protections in rape trials
Reviews of sexual offences legislation are being undertaken in both Ireland and Northern Ireland following a recent trial involving high-profile sportsmen that prompted considerable media coverage and serious concern globally over the treatment of all parties...
Social media: Rise of ‘kidfluencers’ pushes legislators to engage with children’s rights online
In May, the UK House of Commons Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee published the report Influencer culture: Lights, camera, inaction?. It highlights that ‘child influencers are some of the most successful influencers’, and ‘influencer agencies see family influencers as some of the most in-demand social media stars […] because they appeal to both children and parents’.
War crimes: Universal jurisdiction secures convictions for genocide against Yazidi people
A German court has handed down the second conviction of genocide for Islamic State of Iraq and Syria's (ISIS) campaign to eradicate the Yazidi religious minority, seven months after the first genocide conviction.
Abortion rights: Leaked opinion suggests US Supreme Court will overturn 50 years of precedent
On 2 May, a draft majority opinion showing that the US Supreme Court intends to overturn 49 years of a constitutional right to abortion was leaked to the public. The opinion on the case before the Court, Dobbs v Jackson Women’s Health Organization, reads: ‘The Constitution makes no reference to abortion, and no such right is implicitly protected by any constitutional provision’.
Ukraine: Refugee crisis emphasises need for coordinated international response
For refugee rights advocates, the displacement crisis created by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in late February demonstrates the importance of coordinated, compassionate and less bureaucratic approaches to international refugee support.
Independent tribunal finds China has committed genocide against Uyghur Muslims
An independent people’s tribunal has found that China has committed genocide, torture and crimes against humanity against the Uyghur Muslims and other Turkic minorities. The Uyghur Tribunal in London delivered its judgment in early December after 18 months of analysing reports, documents, publicly heard witness testimony and other evidence.
Protecting Afghanistan’s refugees
The fall of Afghanistan to Taliban forces in mid-August led to a mass exodus from the country as many citizens sought to escape the new regime. Following the 70th anniversary of the Refugee Convention, Global Insight examines how threats to, and gaps within, the international refugee protection regime may undermine the assistance owed to those who have fled the Taliban.
United States: divisive cases increase urgency of calls for Supreme Court reform
The US Supreme Court’s 6-3 conservative judge supermajority – created with the appointment of Justice Amy Coney Barrett in the Trump administration’s last days – has begun reviewing and ruling on a string of politically divisive cases. The ongoing debate over reform of the Court itself was already heated; now the temperature of that debate is rising.
Immigration reforms externalising asylum processing threaten refugee protection regime
In early July, the UK’s Home Secretary, Priti Patel, introduced new post-Brexit immigration reforms into Parliament. The Nationality and Borders Bill would enable officers to treat asylum seekers differently based on factors including their route of arrival, potentially criminalising those crossing the English Channel, and have asylum seekers processed offshore, among other changes.
But similar reforms elsewhere have been condemned by human rights advocates, who are concerned about the threat to the rights and protections of asylum seekers and refugees globally as governments push back against territorial asylum systems.
America’s war on democracy
Since high-profile Republicans warned that mail-in voting had to be limited for the party to ever win the presidency again, hundreds of restrictive bills have been introduced across state legislatures. But rights advocates are battling voter suppression, and corporate America is being pulled into the fight.
Migration: UK criticised for ‘inhumane’ housing conditions for asylum seekers
The United Kingdom has come under fire over its treatment of asylum seekers, with concerns raised about inhumane housing conditions and new plans that treat claims as inadmissible before an asylum seeker even reaches UK shores.
Feature: The great regression
The rights of half of the world’s population are threatened thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic and a state-driven backlash against gender equality. Global Insight explores recent regressions in the rights of women, the connection to the rise of nationalistic populism, and how best to counter this rollback.
Column: The militarisation of migration response
The UK government appears to be responding to an increase in asylum seekers crossing the English Channel as if threatened by invasion. Global Insight evaluates the government’s approach and its compatibility with the rule of law.
Migration: UK struggles against legal barriers to block asylum seekers crossing Channel
The British Government has been accused of undermining the rule of law in its approach and rhetoric towards the increasing number of asylum seekers crossing the English Channel to reach the United Kingdom.
Feature: Low wage and low priority
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, workers on the lowest wages have had the least protection – from the virus, from unemployment and from financial distress – despite their work being deemed ‘essential.’ Global Insight explores how governments and corporations can step up to create a better world for these workers.
Climate litigation: European rulings set legal precedents for government accountability
In February, the Court of Appeal in England and Wales found plans for a third runway at Heathrow Airport unlawful, as they were incompatible with commitments the UK government made in line with the United Nation’s Paris Agreement on climate change...
Reproductive rights: abortion decriminalised in Northern Ireland but women’s rights under siege elsewhere
At the end of October, abortion was decriminalised in Northern Ireland. A framework providing legal access to abortion must now be in place by 31 March 2020. Until then, women in Northern Ireland can acquire pills and other means to terminate pregnancies, and doctors are not required to report them for doing so.