Human Rights Institute Annual Review 2017

International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute

The International Bar Association’s Human Rights Institute (IBAHRI) has launched its 2017 Annual Review, providing an overview of the IBAHRI’s major activities over the year.

2017 was a difficult year for human rights: since the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted 70 years ago, it appears that we are now reaching a point where the universal acceptance of human rights is being eroded. Increasingly polarised political spheres and growing support for populist governments are resulting in policies that scapegoat minorities, attack the under-represented and persecute those who oppose these governments.

Video: IBAHRI Annual Review 2017

In this atmosphere, protection of human rights, the rule of law and an independent legal profession are more important than ever. This makes the work of the IBAHRI more important than ever. Since its establishment in 1995, the IBAHRI has endeavoured to defend fundamental human rights through the promotion and protection of the independence of the legal profession, and by providing members of the global legal community with the tools needed to do the same.

“When I got to know the IBA’s Human Rights Institute and I learned more about human rights, it was as if someone has lit a guiding light for me.“

IBAHRI Training Participant

As part of its ongoing projects in the Americas, the IBAHRI provided torture-prevention training to legal professionals, including judges and public defenders, across Brazil and Mexico. In El Salvador, the IBAHRI brought a high-level delegation of experts on the rights to justice, truth and historical memory to meet with legal professionals, the executive, armed forces, CSOs and academia with a view to achieving justice effectively and realising the rights of those who suffered human rights abuses as a result of the 12-year civil war. Additionally, the IBAHRI continued to monitor the emblematic trial of Venezuelan Judge María Lourdes Afiuni, and sent open letters to President Donald Trump of the United States, which criticised the President and his administration for actions the IBAHRI felt were ‘diametrically opposed to the defence of human rights’.

In Asia Pacific, the IBAHRI worked with the newly established Independent Lawyers’ Association of Myanmar to continue its work in the country, and has been running a trial observation programme to ensure those responsible for the death of prominent lawyer U Ko Ni are brought to justice. In Timor-Leste, the IBAHRI has consolidated its presence in the country by seeking to strengthen the legal profession and supporting the creation of its first national bar association.

The IBAHRI launched a mentorship programme for junior Azerbaijani lawyers that linked them with more experienced senior lawyers, and held a Law Student Conference in Baku, among other activities intended to advocate for the rights of legal professionals in the country. We also facilitated attendance at various OSCE Meetings for lawyers in Georgia, Kazakhstan and Tajikistan as part of the IBAHRI's ongoing work in Europe and Central Asia.

The IBAHRI continued its programmes in the Middle East and North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa. The IBAHRI worked on providing Syrian legal professionals with the necessary skills to build their knowledge, confidence and experience with respect to human rights, and focused on facilitating training and discussions with respect to the justiciability of economic, social and cultural rights in Tunisia. Furthermore, a fact-finding mission to Tanzania was undertaken to analyse the independence of the legal profession in the country.

This year, our thematic areas were grouped under four areas: human rights in the administration of justice, equality and non-discrimination, independence of the legal profession, and poverty and human rights. Keep up to date with all our projects and more by downloading our 2017 Annual Review or watch our short video summary.

To receive a hard copy of the Annual Review 2017, please contact