Jul 8, 2015
2:00pm - 3:30pm    |    Wilf 5th Floor Conference Room, 139 MacDougal Street, New York, NY

This event is invitation only. If you are interested in attending, email Audrey Watne at Audrey.watne@nyu.edu. Valid ID and RSVP required.

What started in 1967 as an ad hoc working group on human rights in Southern Africa, has now turned into an integral part of the international human rights machinery: the Special Procedures of the UN Human Rights Council. Today, more than 50 independent experts with thematic and country mandates have a range of responsibilities. Supported by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Special Procedures bring alleged violations of human rights to the attention of Governments through ‘communications’, undertake country visits, and write thematic reports to the Human Rights Council and General Assembly.

The Special Procedures perform various functions. They act as ‘early warning mechanisms’ for the international community about the human rights situation in countries around the world through their ability to respond quickly to news of alleged abuse. They reinforce the work of other human rights bodies by invoking their observations and conclusions in their thematic and country work. They help develop international human rights standards through their thematic reports and other writings. And, crucially, they can put the spotlight on alleged violations of human rights through the publicity generated by their public statements.

Inga Winkler and Christiaan van Veen each work as an external advisor to a UN Special Rapporteur and will give an overview of their work. What are the various tasks of a Special Rapporteur and what does that mean in practice? They will reflect on their experiences to elucidate some of the pressures on the system. How do the Special Procedures remain independent? What is the role of OHCHR? What are the ways to have an ‘impact’ and what challenges exist to being maximally effective?  By reflecting on their experiences, they hope to enhance the understanding of the UN Special Procedures and analyze whether Kofi Anan was right when he called the Special Procedures the ‘crown jewel’ of the UN human rights system.

About the speakers:

Dr. Inga Winkler is a Legal Adviser to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights to Water and Sanitation. Inga lectures regularly on human rights and has been in residence as a visiting scholar at Stellenbosch (South Africa) and Berkeley, where she contributed to clinical teaching. She has worked as a consultant for international organizations, donor agencies, and non-governmental organizations. Inga holds a German law degree and a doctorate in public international law. Her thesis focused on the human right to water and its implications for water allocation. She has published and presented widely on human rights. Her research interests include economic, social and cultural rights; the UN human rights system; non-discrimination and substantive equality; human rights in development, in particular in the context of the Millennium Development Goals and post-2015 discussions; and human rights monitoring.

Christiaan van Veen is Senior Advisor to the UN Special Rapporteur on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, Philip Alston. Christiaan has extensive experience working as an international lawyer in different capacities. Prior to his current position, he has been an NYU International Finance and Development Fellow at the Legal Vice Presidency of the World Bank. He holds an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from NYU School of Law (’14), where he focused on human rights law and international organizations. As a participant in the International Organizations Clinic at NYU, he worked on a project for the General Counsel of the World Health Organization. Christiaan also holds an LL.M. in International and European Law from Utrecht University in the Netherlands (cum laude). After graduating from Utrecht University, he worked for the legal department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands and as ‘Bluebook’ Trainee for the Legal Service of the European Commission, where he primarily focused on litigation before the Court of Justice of the European Union. From 2008 to 2013, he worked in private practice in Amsterdam, where he specialized in EU law, antitrust law and telecommunications law.


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