European Union

European Union

About the European Union

The European Union (EU) is an economic and political association currently made up of 27 European countries. It was formed in 1958 and was originally called European Economic Community (ECC) since it was the economic cooperation between six countries to reduce the possibilities of conflict between them. This created a large unified market and, since 1993, the European Union has covered many policy areas, from the environment and health to external relations and security.

The EU’s institutional framework and decision-making system consists of four main institutions: the European Council, the European Commission, the European Parliament, and the Council of the EU. One of the objectives of the European Union is the promotion of human rights, democracy and the rule of law, both in internal policy and in its external relations.

Our work in the European Union

The EU’s institutions and participation spaces offer advocacy mechanisms to make human rights violations in Latin American and Caribbean countries more visible. In this sense, Race and Equality carries out articulated and coordinated advocacy work with other organizations and networks of civil society before different formations of the European Parliament, such as the Subcommittee on Human Rights, the Committee on Foreign Affairs and the Delegations for relations with regions and countries of Latin America, as well as before the secretariats of the political groups.

It also lobbies the European External Action Service (the EU entity that implements the EU’s Common Foreign and Security Policy and conducts diplomatic relations with other countries), the office of the EU Special Representative for Human Rights and the European Commission’s Directorate for International Partnerships. At the level of the EU Member States, our focus of work is the Working Group on Latin America and the Caribbean of the Council of the EU (COLAC). Race and Equality also offers technical assistance and training to organizations and activists in Latin America, facilitating their access to EU institutions, mechanisms and work processes.

Currently, Race and Equality has a representative in Brussels, who is responsible for designing and carrying out the organization’s advocacy strategy before the institutions of the European Union and its different bodies.

UN

About the UN

The United Nations (UN) is an intergovernmental organization dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights throughout the world. The UN has created most of the international human rights standards to combat human rights violations and, as such, represents an important space for civil society organizations working to conduct advocacy and address different forms of discrimination.

The United Nations System is composed of various bodies and treaties, including the Human Rights Council – a political body that gathers together States, civil society organizations, experts and UN staff, in sessions to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights around the world. The Council can establish Special Procedures, which are mechanisms headed by Special Rapporteurs that report on specific population situations and work on new international standards. It also has key tools such as the Universal Periodic Review (UPR), which are periodic assessments of States conducted by their peers (other States) regarding their responsibility to fully respect and implement all human rights and fundamental freedoms.

The UN can also establish committees of Independent Experts to monitor the implementation of States parties’ obligations under international human rights treaties, such as the Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Our Work at the UN

The Institute on Race, Equality and Human Rights (Race and Equality) promotes the participation of Latin American civil society organizations in different UN human rights mechanisms, particularly those working on issues of race, gender, LGBTI+ persons and the protection of human rights defenders in contexts of authoritarian regimes.

For years, we have provided technical assistance to our partners in order to increase their participation and engagement with the UN. We support them in the preparation of alternative or “shadow” reports to be submitted to the UPR and other UN treaty bodies, and in the preparation of complaints submitted for Special Procedures mandates.

We also facilitate the participation of our partners in meetings with diplomats, UN officials and other relevant parties; we promote public events with our partners to publicize the conclusions and recommendations of the mandates of various organizations, with the aim that these findings can become advocacy tools for civil society organizations in Latin America.

Our Achievements

  • We have supported partners participating in different avenues of the United Nations, such as the participation of representatives of Brazilian civil society in the first session of the Permanent Forum of Afro-descendants in December 2022, and the participation of two indigenous leaders from the Amazon and Amap√° States in Brazil, to the annual meeting of the Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
  • We accompany our partners at Treaty Body reviews, the UPR, Human Rights Council sessions and regular meetings with Special Procedures. In April 2022, we accompanied delegations of Cuban activists to the review of the State by the Committee against Torture (CAT). In August 2022, we supported a delegation of Brazilian organizations to the presentation of the UPR review of Brazil.
  • We have conducted advocacy campaigns, including meetings with diplomatic missions and United Nations bodies, for the creation of new mandates and the renewal of existing mandates. In 2022, we advocated for the creation of the “Group of Experts on Human Rights on Nicaragua” and, subsequently, in 2023 we advocated for the approval of Resolution A/HRC/RES/52/2, which reinforces and renews this mandate for a further two years.

OAS

About the OAS

The Organization of American States (OAS) and two of its most important organs, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (the Commission) and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (the Inter-American Court), are the key regional mechanisms dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights in the Americas.

These bodies provide essential forums in which non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can engage governments in human rights debates, advocate for the protection and promotion of human rights, and seek redress for individual or collective human rights violations.

Our Work at the OAS

Race and Equality provides technical assistance to Afro-Latino, indigenous, LGBTI+ and other human rights organizations on how to implement an advocacy agenda in the OAS. We maintain a constant presence in the meetings of the political organs of the OAS and have worked with this regional institution together with human rights organizations to promote the approval and ratification of new regional instruments.

We are currently seeking to build the capacity of Afro-Latino and indigenous organizations to work with their governments and their government delegates at the OAS to advocate for the signing and ratification of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI), approved by the OAS General Assembly in Antigua. Guatemala in 2013.

Race and Equality also works to build the capacities of its partners to present critical information on specific human rights issues to the various political organs of the OAS, such as the Permanent Council, the Summits of the Americas Process, and the General Assembly, in order to promote the participation of these organizations in the fight against racial discrimination.

From our Legal Program, we carry out actions such as requesting precautionary measures and provisional measures for human rights defenders, and we litigate cases of human rights violations before the IACHR and the Inter-American Court. To this is added the advocacy work to denounce the situation of people deprived of liberty for political reasons.

Our Achievements

Race and Equality has played a key role in the thematic hearings before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, presenting alongside expert testimony from our partners on issues such as

  • Racial discrimination in the region
  • The human rights situation of Afro-Colombians and the human rights situation of Afro-Brazilian youth
  • the situation of LGBTI+ people in Colombia and Brazil
  • the situation of Afro-descendant women in Latin America.

Race and Equality has played a very important role in the Ratification and Implementation of the Inter-American Convention against Racism, Racial Discrimination and Related Forms of Intolerance (CIRDI) and the Inter-American Convention against All Forms of Discrimination and Intolerance (CIDI).

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