Annual report: read what the ICJ did in 2018 to protect human rights
The ICJ has issued its Annual Report 2018, which offers a concise summary of the work carried out by the ICJ over the past year.
The ICJ’s long-standing work to uphold the international framework underlying human rights protection has never been so important as in the current climate of wholesale assault upon this framework and the very concept of the rule of law.
Many of the current challenges to human rights stem from the same issues that we have been dealing with in recent decades. However, there are also new challenges that come from States that would not have been predicted 15 years ago.
The rise of democratically elected, self-styled populist leaders who embrace and espouse authoritarian, nationalistic and xenophobic policies has led to almost unprecedented levels of licence to engage in attacks and incitement against some of the most marginalized in society, including immigrants, asylum seekers and minorities.
These leaders have also attacked human rights defenders, civil society organizations, the civilian judiciary, the media, and have arrested opposition leaders and at times have cynically used counter-terrorism laws against and military courts to try peaceful protesters.
Such practices are exquisitely antithetical to and utterly destructive of the rule of law and the rights-based system that the ICJ has sought to promote and protect over the years.
While these new challenges to human rights are particularly insidious and damaging, the ICJ is well-placed to deal with them by virtue of our unique approach which focuses on the transformative role and potential of the law, of justice institutions and of justice actors.
Our ability to influence legal and institutional reform and individual justice actors is unparalleled and this reinforces the relevance and effectiveness of the ICJ.
Accordingly, rule of law issues on the international and regional levels continued to dominate the ICJ’s core work in 2018.
As indicated in this Report, the ICJ helped to protect the European Court of Human Rights from proposed ‘reforms’ that would have undermined its ability to operate effectively, and contributed to the UN Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration, which recognizes the need to observe human rights in the context of large movements of peoples.
As part of our global and regional efforts to strengthen independent and accountable judicial systems, the ICJ contributed to the elaboration of the Lilongwe Principles on the Appointment of Judicial Officers and was actively engaged with the UN Global Judicial Integrity Network.
In addition, we continued our work on traditional and customary justice systems and the opportunities they offer for enabling access to justice consistent with internationally recognized fair trial standards.
Finally, it is worth noting that 2018 marked the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
Given the current climate, it is altogether fitting to recall and reflect on why this seminal document was adopted and why it envisions that human rights be protected by the rule of law.
Accordingly, the ICJ will continue to work vigorously to uphold the rule of law around the world, always mindful that what we do is ultimately intended to benefit all rights holders in all places and in all contexts.
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