Impact of the work of Special Procedures: Policy reform

The Vatican reforms its policies

In February 2019 the Special Rapporteur on sale of children engaged with the Holy See concerning the allegations of ongoing clerical sexual abuse of children. Due to the ongoing global pressure for greater accountability, on 17 December 2019, the Vatican announced that it would abolish the high level of secrecy it has applied to sexual-abuse accusations against clerics, ending a policy that critics said had often shielded priests from criminal punishment by the secular authorities. The Pope also made the canon law against child pornography more stringent.

Other Impact: contribution to government and or judicial process; prevention and/or cessation of human rights violation

Armenia changes policy on creating segregated communities for poor and children with disabilities

On 11 November 2019, Special Rapporteur on Disabilities together with Special Rapporteur on Education sent a communication (OL ARM 4/2019) to Armenia raising concerns at a policy decision by the Government to support (by providing land and financially) the construction of so-called “Caritas City” or “Children’s City”. The experts raised concerns that this program would, if implemented, violate provisions of the Convention on the rights of persons with disabilities as well as the Convention on the rights of the child, since it would lead to segregated communities for children and their families based on their financial status and on the grounds of disabilities. In its response of 10 February 2020, the Government informed the mandate holders that on 26 December 2019, the Government had reversed its decision and stopped the implementation of the project.

Other Impact: contribution to government and or judicial process; prevention and/or cessation of human rights violation

Canada adopts national housing strategy based on human rights standards

As a result of the Special Rapporteur on the right to adequate housing's advocacy and communications and collaborative work with civil society in the country, Canada has adopted a new National Housing Strategy based on human rights standards. In March 2019, the Special Rapporteur presented a thematic report to the 40th session of Human Rights Council with a checklist for Governments to ensure that national housing strategies comply fully with human rights obligations (A/HRC/40/61), which informed as well discussions on the development of a National Housing Strategy in Canada. The Special Rapporteur also sent a communication on 22 June 2018 to the Canadian Government expressing concern that the proposed legislation for implementing the National Housing Strategy may not recognize the right to housing and could fail to set clear goals and timelines for the elimination of homelessness and establishing an effective monitoring and accountability mechanism (CAN 2/2018).

After the housing strategy was adopted by Parliament in June 2019, the Special Rapporteur issued a press release underlining that the new housing legislation, "has set a global example with a new housing policy that embraces human rights as the most effective framework to address homelessness and inadequate housing." The Special Rapporteur pointed out that the new legislation is ground-breaking as it not only includes an explicit reference to the right to housing in domestic law, but it also establishes a creative mechanism to monitor the Government and to ensure access to remedies for systemic barriers to the enjoyment of adequate housing. The new legislation establishes, among others, a Federal Housing Advocate who will monitor government performance and can receive submissions on systemic barriers to adequate housing. The important role of the Special Rapporteur has been acknowledged by the Government, which noted that "[t]his important piece of legislation would not have been possible without [the Special Rapporteur's] contribution and those of members of civil society." In addition, as a positive spill-over effect of Canada's National Housing Strategy, Toronto recently announced that their new 10-year housing plan will adopt a human rights-based approach, while the city of Ottawa has also indicated its new homelessness plan will also adopt such an approach.

Other Impact: Contribution to Governmental and/or Judicial Processes and Legislative Reform

Ireland adopts a new agreement to improve the working conditions of migrant workers in its fishing industry

After a joint communication was issued by the Special Rapporteurs on trafficking in persons, the rights of migrants, slavery, and racism on 12 February 2019 concerning the working conditions of migrants workers in the Irish fishing industry (IRL 1/2019), a new agreement between the Irish government and the International Transport Workers' Federation (ITF) was enacted to bring new immigration rights to non-European Economic Area (EEA) workers in April 2019. The agreement, aiming at addressing cases of severe of exploitation and trafficking in persons in fishing vessels, eliminates employer tied visas along with the implementation of other measures to improve working conditions.

Other Impact: Prevention and/or Cessation of Human Rights Violations and Raising Human Rights Awareness