2020 event: Towards Torture-Free Trade - Opportunities and Challenges

Friday 11 December 2020, 10am EST/4pm CET

On 11th December 2020, Omega participated in a webinar on Torture-Free Trade. Michelle Bachelet, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and Eamon Gilmore EU Special Representative for Human Rights, were keynote speakers, and the event included

  • Mr. Olof Skoog (EU Head of Delegation),
  • Dr. Nicola Wenzel (Council of Europe, Steering Committee for Human Rights),
  • Dr. Ezgi Yildiz (Senior Researcher at the Global Governance Centre, the Graduate Institute, Geneva), and
  • Dr. Hilde Hardeman (Head of the Service for Foreign Policy Instruments, EU).

The panel discussion also included Dr. Michael Crowley (Omega Research Foundation), Mr. Rajat Khosla (Senior Director, Amnesty International), and Prof. Manfred Nowak (Secretary General, Global Campus on Human Rights). The presentations given by Michael & Rajat are available below. The statements given by UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachalet, EU Special Representative for Human Rights, Eamon Gilmore, and Head of the European Union Delegation to the United Nations, Ambassador Olof Skoog, are also available.

View the event here on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ci7-PlhT_pA

Omega prepared two maps for this event. The first presents an overview of State responses to the trade in tools of torture. The second is a map of some example cases of torture or other ill-treatment involving a range of kinds of equipment.



Since the adoption of Resolution 72/163 in 2017, the UN General Assembly has been calling upon all States to take appropriate effective legislative, administrative, judicial, and other measures to prevent and prohibit the production, trade, export, import and use of equipment that is specifically designed to inflict torture or has no practical use other than for the purpose of torture or other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Following UN General Assembly Resolution 73/304, adopted in June 2019, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), on behalf of the UN Secretary General, has conducted further work.
Through a survey, the OHCHR has gathered the views and inputs of UN Member States, leading to the report of the UN Secretary-General ‘Towards torture-free trade: examining the feasibility, scope and parameters for possible common international standards’ https://undocs.org/A/74/969. The report builds on input from over 40 UN Member States, mostly members the Alliance for Torture-Free Trade, and it constitutes a further milestone, in that it recognises that the establishment of common international standards could ensure more effective regulation. In this regard, relevant regional and national regulations (the EU ‘Anti-Torture’ Regulation is specifically referenced in various parts of the report as best practice) may serve as an example.

As a next step, a group of governmental experts (one expert per ‘UN regional group’) is to continue the work based on this report. The group of governmental experts will deliver its report to the UN General Assembly for its consideration at its seventy-fifth session in 2021. Concurrently, The Council of Europe is in the process of developing a recommendation on the same subject, which will be based on the EU Anti-Torture Regulation.