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Local Government and Human Rights

Local governments play a key role in the promotion and protection of human rights. Local government has different forms and functions depending on the constitutional and legal systems of the State concerned. One of its important functions is to provide public services that address local needs and priorities related to the realisation of human rights at the local level. Although the primary responsibility for the promotion and protection of human rights rests with national governments, the promotion of a human rights culture within local public services plays a vital role in promoting respect for and the realisation of human rights in society. To this end, human rights education, awareness-raising and training for public officials is important at both the national and local government levels.

The report requested by HRC resolution 39/7 is now available in all UN languages.

Human Rights Council resolutions

Human Rights Council resolutions 24/2 of 26 September 2013, 27/4 of 25 September 2014 and 33/8 of 29 September 2016 concerned the role of local government in the promotion and protection of human rights.

At its thirty-ninth session, the Human Rights Council adopted resolution 39/7 in which it requested the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to prepare a report on effective methods to foster cooperation between local government and local stakeholders for the effective promotion and protection of human rights at their level through local government programmes, including raising awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals, and to indicate the major challenges and best practices in this regard, and to submit the report to the Council prior to its forty-second session.

In line with Council resolution 39/7, requesting the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights to consult with all States and relevant intergovernmental organizations, United Nations agencies, funds and programmes, relevant special procedures of the Human Rights Council, the Advisory Committee, the treaty bodies, national human rights institutions, civil society, including non-governmental organisations, and local governments, the following Note Verbale and letters were prepared and disseminated by the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in December 2018.

Note Verbale and letters:

Responses received:


  1. Albania
  2. Azerbaijan
  3. Bolivia 1-2
  4. Costa Rica
  5. Croatia
  6. Egypt
  7. Greece 1-2-3-4
  8. Ivory Coast
  9. Malaysia
  10. Mali
  11. Mexico 1-2-3
  12. Norway (Norwegian Ministry of Local Government and Modernisation)
  13. Oman - *Received after the report was drafted.
  14. Republic of Korea
  15. Senegal
  16. Sweden (Ministry of Culture)
  17. Trinidad and Tobago (Ministry of Rural Development and Local Government)
  18. Ukraine (Ministry of Justice)

Intergovernmental organizations:

  1. European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights (FRA)

Local Governments:

  1. Amsterdam 1-2-3-4-5
  2. the City of Barcelona
  3. the Municipality of Budapest
  4. State of Coahuila de Zaragoza (Human Rights Directorate of the Government)
  5. Gipuzkoa Regional Council 1-2-3-4-5
  6. Goicochea 1-2-3
  7. the City of Grigny
  8. Gwangju Metropolitan Government, Democracy and Human Rights Division
  9. State of Hawai'i and City of Honolulu
  10. City Council of Madrid 1-2-3-4-5
  11. the City of Montreal 1-2
  12. the City of Naples 1-2-3-4
  13. the City of Nuremberg
  14. Municipality of São Paulo 1-2-3
  15. Municipality of Sorocaba
  16. Seoul Metropolitan Government, Human Rights Division
  17. Terrassa
  18. the City of Utrecht 1-2-3-4-5-6-7
  19. the City Vienna, Human Rights Office

United Nations agencies, funds and programmes

  1. UN-Habitat in Kenya
  2. UNDP in New York concerning UNDP Pakistan’s Decentralization and Local Governance Project
  3. OHCHR Uganda
  4. OHCHR Regional Office for Europe

Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council

  1. Independent Expert on the effects of foreign debt and other related international financial obligations of States on the full enjoyment of all human rights, particularly economic, social and cultural rights 1-2

Human Rights Council Advisory Committee

Human Rights Treaty Bodies

National Human Rights Institutions

  1. National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK)

Civil Society, including Non-Governmental Organisations

  1. the Union of Municipalities of Turkey
  2. the Program on Human Rights and the Global Economy of Northeastern University School of Law and the Columbia Human Rights Institute
  4. Action on Smoking and Health
  5. Persons Against Non-State Torture
  6. International Centre for the Promotion of Human Rights at Local and Regional Levels in relation to the city of Graz in Austria
  7. Santa Clara University School of Law in California 1-2-3-4-5
  8. International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions
  9. International NGO Forum on Indonesian Development
  10. the Swedish Association of Local Authorities and Regions (SALAR) and the Raoul Wallenberg Institute for Human Rights and Humanitarian Law (RWI) 1-2-3-4-5-6
  11. Mistra Urban Futures
  12. UCLG
  13. Alison Frayne, PhD
  14. Catherine Le Bris (CNRS researcher)
  15. Harm Reduction International and Release
  16. Human Rights Cities Network