What is the role of local governments in ensuring human rights? Are they of significance or is it the state’s responsibility to protect human rights ? In their statement provided for the UN Human Rights Council in May 2013, the Egypt Habitat International Coalition discusses this topic, and underlines the importance of local governments in this regard.
Human rights address and tie the state, that bears the responsibility to ensure them. However, that raises the question of the state’s constitutive parts. Since states consists of different administrative levels, composed of civil servants and authorities, human rights obligations are tied not just the State, but to local levels as well.
An integrated perspective is necessary that puts multiple levels such as the central government and the local governments in charge of ensuring human rights. While the state should provide the environment to facilitate the implementation of human rights obligations and responsibilities, local governments face the task of setting the foundation to enable people to realize their human rights.
The integration of central government and local governments is an important step towards the realization of human rights, such as the right to water and sanitation and the human right to food. Good practices and policy models in both areas have shown that local governments play a central role in the protection and realization of these human rights.
This perspective and experience falls in line with The Hunger Project’s approach to strengthen local governments and structures as one step to end hunger, and to ensure the human right to food. Local governments are closest to the people and thus can best be aware of (a lack of) their basic needs and their human rights situation in general. Therefore, by being aware of the situation locally, and at the same time by having the resources and capabilities to act and react, local governments can play an important role in the ensuring and realization of human rights.
The full statement can be downloaded from here.
Image courtesy of humanrightslogo.