Advancing Human Rights as a UN Special Rapporteur

Advancing Human Rights as a UN Special Rapporteur: Reflections from Three Canadians

As we mark the 73rd anniversary of the United Nations adopting the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, there is no denying that the world continues to face considerable human rights challenges. Amidst the turmoil, independent experts within the UN human rights system play a vital role. The Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council - once described by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan as the ‘crown jewel’ of the UN human rights system – are looked to by frontline communities, human rights defenders, civil society groups and governments to spotlight and document violations, and propose reforms to advance stronger human rights protection.

Over the years a number of Canadians have taken up these leadership roles as Special Rapporteurs or members of Working Groups within the Special Procedures system. On International Human Rights Day 2021, three current or former Special Rapporteurs, with mandates that cover the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the right to adequate housing and the rights of migrants, will share their experiences in a discussion moderated by Alex Neve, Senior Fellow at the University of Ottawa's Graduate School of Public and International Affairs. Leilani Farha, now Global Director for The Shift, and Professors Michael Lynk and François Crépeau, will reflect on the importance of the Special Procedures, the ups and downs they have faced, and what it is like for a Canadian to take up this role.

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Date and time
Dec 10, 2021
All day
Format and location
Event in English
Organized by

Our Speakers

Leilani Farha

Leilani Farha

Leilani Farha, a long-time HRREC member, the Global Director of The Shift, an international movement to secure the right to housing and the former UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing (2014-2020). The Shift was launched in 2017 with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights and United Cities and Local Government and works with multi-level stakeholders around the world including with several city governments in North America and Europe. Leilani’s work is animated by the principle that housing is a social good, not a commodity. She has helped develop global human rights standards on the right to housing, including through her topical reports on homelessness, the financialization of housing, informal settlements, rights-based housing strategies, and the first UN Guidelines for the implementation of the right to housing. She is the central character in the award-winning documentary PUSH regarding the financialization of housing, directed by the Swedish filmmaker Fredrik Gertten.
Michael Lynk

Michael Lynk

Michael Lynk is Associate Professor at the Faculty of Law, Western University, London, Ontario, Canada. He served as Associate Dean of the Faculty between 2008-11. Professor Lynk teaches and writes in the areas of labour law, human rights law and constitutional law. He also serves as a labour arbitrator and mediator. In May 2016, the United Nations Human Rights Council appointed Professor Lynk as Special Rapporteur for the human rights situation in the Palestinian Territory occupied since 1967 for a six-year term. In his capacity, he delivers regular reports to the UN General Assembly and the Human Rights Council on human rights trends in the OPT.
François Crépeau

François Crépeau

François Crépeau is Full Professor and the Hans & Tamar Oppenheimer Chair in Public International Law, at the Faculty of Law of McGill University. He was the Director of the McGill Centre for Human Rights and Legal Pluralism from 2015 to 2020. He is a member of the Scientific Committee of the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (Vienna, AT), the Chair of the Thematic Working Group: Migrant Rights and Integrations in Host Communities, KNOMAD - Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development, World Bank Group (Washington, DC), and a member of the Advisory Committee of the International Migration Initiative of the Open Society Foundations (NY). He was the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants (2011-2017).