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New UN expert sets out vision of new world order based on rights, social justice and equitable development

GENEVA (10 September 2018) – The UN’s new independent expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order, Livingstone Sewanyana, has said a new world order is possible.

“I believe a new world order based on universal respect for human rights, social justice, rule of law and equitable development is possible,” said Mr. Sewanyana setting out his vision in his first report to the Human Rights Council.

“The mandate that has been entrusted to me requires a holistic approach, ensuring that all rights are promoted and protected in an environment that gives due recognition to participation, inclusion and transparency.

“I will aim firstly to examine the various forms and practice of democracy. There is a growing need to investigate the existing governance practices across the world and identify obstacles to the growth of democracy and equitable development. I would also like to engage States and others in efforts to address obstacles to free, fair and inclusive elections and, where appropriate, to identify best practice.”

The expert said he would also examine how the right to participate in public affairs could be better realised, paying due attention to the issues of gender equality and civil society, and how to make such institutions more responsive and inclusive.

Turning to the issue of corruption, the expert stressed that he would like to engage States and others in efforts to promote good practices that demonstrate effective private-public partnership, the enforcement of labour rights and environmental protection, as well as the commitment of businesses to non-discrimination and other steps that respect human rights.

Countries that adhere to the principle of “open government” pledge to protect civil society organizations in efforts to demonstrate greater transparency, more accountability and more responsiveness to their own citizens. Mr. Sewanyana said it was important to gather information on citizen monitoring and the space given to civil society to participate and contribute to the work of national and international anti-corruption bodies.

The expert is also keen to explore the role of new global governance forums which have emerged separately from the United Nations and where international priorities are also set. He said he would like to study their constitutions and practices, applying the principles of transparency, participation and accountability in order to develop recommendations aimed at strengthening their contributions to democratic governance and human rights.

The fifth area on which Mr. Sewanyana intends to focus relates to global economic challenges. International responses, from austerity measures to classical approaches to international investment, have so far proven insufficient to address the causes and consequences of such challenges. The expert wants to find ways in which the international community could better respond in a way that promotes a world order that is more democratic and equitable.

Mr. Sewanyana said he would also aim to investigate the connection between youth, fragility, violence and opportunity. “Young people face unique challenges and are especially vulnerable in uncertain environments. Limited access to resources, education, training, employment and a lack of economic opportunities constrain their prospects, and in some cases may push them to resort to violence,” he added.

“I look forward to working constructively with a broad cross-section of society, including governments, intergovernmental organizations, regional organizations and those in the private sector, to create a better understanding of the need to promote a democratic and equitable international order. In addition, I look forward to consulting with a broad range of civil society organizations to further increase knowledge of, and engagement with, the mandate,” the expert concluded.


Mr. Livingstone Sewanyana (Uganda) was appointed as the second Independent Expert on the promotion of a democratic and equitable international order by the Human Rights Council and took up his mandate on 1 May 2018. He is the Founder and Executive Director of the Foundation for Human Rights Initiative (FHRI), a Ugandan civil society organisation.  A lawyer by profession and advocate of the High Court of Uganda, he holds a PhD in Public Law from the University of Cape Town (South Africa), a Master of Laws in International Human Rights Law from the University of Essex (United Kingdom) and a Bachelor of Laws from Makerere University (Uganda). He has written and published widely on human rights, corporate governance, public sector management and access to justice.

The Independent Experts are part of what is known as the Special Procedures of the Human Rights Council. Special Procedures, the largest body of independent experts in the UN Human Rights system, is the general name of the Council’s independent fact-finding and monitoring mechanisms that address either specific country situations or thematic issues in all parts of the world. Special Procedures experts work on a voluntary basis; they are not UN staff and do not receive a salary for their work. They are independent from any government or organization and serve in their individual capacity.

For more information and media requests, please write to ie-internationalorder@ohchr.org or contact Mr. Guillaume Pfeifflé (+41 22 917 9384 / gpfeiffle@ohchr.org or Ms Aminta Ossom (+41 22 917 9611 / aossom@ohchr.org)

For media inquiries related to other UN independent experts please contact: Mr. Jeremy Laurence, UN Human Rights – Media Unit (+41 22 917 9383 / jlaurence@ohchr.org).

This year is the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted by the UN on 10 December 1948. The Universal Declaration – translated into a world record 500 languages – is rooted in the principle that “all human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights.” It remains relevant to everyone, every day. In honour of the 70th anniversary of this extraordinarily influential document, and to prevent its vital principles from being eroded, we are urging people everywhere to Stand Up for Human Rights: www.standup4humanrights.org.