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- Inez McCormack
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Work at UN Level
PPR's groups have brought their grassroots human rights based campaigns to the United Nations.
In May 2009, PPR and group members working on housing, mental health, right to play and urban regeneration campaigns travelled to Geneva for the Committee on Economic and Social Rights' examination of the UK government. PPR had submitted a Shadow report based on the experiences of the groups. During our visit to Geneva, the group lobbied Committee members, observed the examination proceedings and learnt about the work of NGO’s attending from other parts of the UK. PPR and the group wrote about our experiences in the blog http://nbelfast.blogspot.co.uk/ and also recorded a few short films of our trip including those below.
The groups were extremely successful in their work with the Committee with many of the issues they raised reflected in the Committee's Concluding Observations including the following.
“The Committee is concerned about the chronic shortage of housing, in particular social housing, for the most disadvantaged and marginalized individuals and groups, such as persons with disabilities, especially in Scotland, or Catholic families in Northern Belfast, in spite of the financial resources provided, and other measures taken, by the State party in this regard. The Committee remains also concerned about the extent of homelessness in the State party. (art. 11)”
"The Committee is concerned about the persistent levels of deprivation and inequality throughout Northern Ireland, despite the adoption of the Equalities Impact Assessment in Northern Ireland. (art. 11)
The Committee recommends that the human rights framework, including the Equalities Impact Assessment, be effectively implemented in Northern Ireland, particularly in the context of urban regeneration programmes by ensuring the participation of the affected populations and the development of adequate policies and targeted measures to promote substantive equality, provide for improved health care, as well as an increase in skills training and employment opportunities for young people and adequate housing programmes for the poor and, in particular, Catholic families."
"The Committee is concerned about the increasing suicide rates in Northern Ireland and Scotland, particularly among mental health patients, who face difficulties in accessing the complaints system. (art. 12)
The Committee recommends that the State party intensify its efforts to decrease the number of suicides among mental health patients by dealing with the causes of suicide and strengthening the provision of psychological counselling services, as well as training of health professionals on the causes and symptoms of depression and other mental health problems. It also recommends that the State party take all appropriate measures to ensure access of such patients to the complaints system."
In November 2012 the UN Office of the High Commission for Human Rights published Human Rights Indicators: A Guide to Measurement and Implementation. The manual includes a case study of the work of PPR and the Seven Towers Residents Group presented ‘as an example of how people can effectively use indicators to claim their rights’.
In May 2013 PPR was the only NGO to present at the 26th Annual Meeting of the International Coordinating Committee of National Institutions for the Promotion and Protection of Human Rights (ICC) in Geneva (Switzerland). More than 80 NHRIs from around the world were present at the meeting, together with the regional networks, inter-governmental organizations, NGOs, academia, UNDP, OHCHR and other UN agencies. PPR were asked to speak on the centrality of the right to participation and what it means in practice.
At the 23rd session of the United Nations Human Rights Council in June 2013, the Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights, Magdalena Sepúlveda, submitted a report on the human rights approach to participation of persons living in poverty in decisions that affect their lives. PPR provided contributions to this report, which can be viewed here.
PPR also took part in the UN Special Rapporteur’s Roundtable on the Security of Tenure for the Urban and Rural poor in Geneva in June 2013.
PPR helped to facilitate the Belfast leg of the official Mission to the UK of the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Adequate Housing, Raquel Rolnik. In the report of the Official Mission published in February 2014, it was recommended that devolved administration in Northern Ireland:
“Put in place additional efforts to address challenges to overcome persistent inequalities in housing in North Belfast. For this purpose, active, free and meaningful participation of all in decisions made about housing should be promoted, including in relation to the collection of official data, that should be disaggregated, open and accessible to all”
In 2015, PPR submitted a Shadow Report to the United Nations Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights' Examination of the United Kingdom's 6th Periodic Report.
Amongst the key concerns expressed in PPR's report include;
- Significant gaps and omissions in the State Party's report particularly with regards to the impact of government policies in Northern Ireland
- The impact of unemployment and long term unemployment on disadvantaged and marginalised individuals and groups
- The ineffectiveness of government measures to address unemployment including 'back to work' schemes
- Persisting levels of deprivation which are further entrenched by inward investment patterns and job creation
- The impact of sanctions and barriers in accessing effective remedies for vulnerable groups
- Failures to appropriately monitor and implement targets for the serving of Non-Molestation Orders
- Persisting religious inequality impacting the Catholic community in north Belfast and related concerns regarding disaggregated data
- The use of public land to address housing rights
- Access to emergency mental healthcare at Hospital A&E settings
- Regressive measures taken in funding mental health services
- Special Educational Needs Provision in Irish Medium Education
To download a copy of PPR's submission, which includes an Executive Summary, click here.