June 28, 2024No Comments

Dr. Beatrice Maneshi on Women’s Rights in the Digital Economy

In this episode of ITSS Verona Member Series Video Podcast, Dr Beatrice Maneshi delves into the issue of identity, discrimination and women's rights in the digital economy. Building upon previous researches, Maneshi explains the complex social impacts intertwined with the emerging gig economy.

Dr Beatrice Maneshi is a Gender, Security, and Financial Inclusion Expert focused on MENA, SEA and Sub Saharan Africa. Also, Founder of Catalystas Consulting.

Interviewers: Ilaria Lorusso and Sofia Sutera - Human Rights Team

April 6, 2024No Comments

Discrimination and the right of a people to self-determination: UN Charter and UniversalDeclarationof Human Rights

Author: Alessandro Peluso - Human Rights Team


The humanitarian crisis unfolding in the Middle East, in the Palestinian Territories, is among the most serious in the history of the Mediterranean.

The coexistence of different peoples with different cultures, customs and religious beliefs has accompanied the history of all civilisations that have settled along the shores of the Mediterranean Sea, yet the conflict between the State of Israel and Palestine seems far from seeing a resolution, due to the diplomatic inability of the Western and Eastern blocs to intervene decisively and put an end to a suffering far from the standards of the contemporary world.

The International Court of Justice, whose jurisdiction is recognised by Israel, is examining the case, raised and brought before the court by South Africa, about the possibility of genocide against the Palestinian people at the hands of the State of Israel. However, since this is an open case that will take a long time to see a ruling clarifying the nature of military and non-military operations in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, the focus in this article will be on the rights of a people, a topic that applies to many other cases of possible persecution of entire populations in other continents,  such as the case of Rohingya and Uyghurs people in Asia.

United Nations Charter and Universal Declaration of Human Rights

It is worth reiterating that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) sets out fundamental rights that should serve as a beacon for action by any individual and State. Articles 1, 2, 3 and 5 lay down principles specific to the human being, understood as an equal and free subject, whose identity must not be a reason for discrimination of any kind; and whose person must not be subjected to inhuman treatment.

For the purposes of this discussion, it seems natural to follow the benchmarks of international law and the commitment made by States. For these reasons, reference should also be made to the UN Charter, which should be read in conjunction with the UDHR in order to get a full understanding of the premises.

Article 1(1) of the UN Charter states that “[The purpose of the United Nations is] to develop friendly relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples, and to take other appropriate measures to strengthen universal peace”.

State recognition and peoples’ rights

At first reading, it is plausible to think that this is a principle that applies to States only, as legal subjects, and in particular to contracting states, (i.e. those that are members of the United Nations). However, not only it applies to contracting States, which have agreed to follow the dictates of the signed papers in the broader context of international relations, but it also serves as a general principle of conduct of peoples and States towards peoples and social groups. After all, International Law is based upon customary law, which also benefits from the signature of documents such as the UDHR or the UN Charter.

This detail is crucial to observe with the right lens the dynamics of any case to be analysed, such as that of the Palestinian people. The Palestinian Territories are recognised as a state in fact by a limited number of States, be it for political or legal reasons. According to international law, in fact, recognition is not a necessary and determining factor for a State to be considered as such; however, it is a very important factor on a political level, as it lays the foundations for diplomatic relations between states. Such a point has been long discussed in doctrine, having jurists and scholars debating whether recognition is required (Constitutive Theory) or not (Declaratory Theory). Notably, the latter argument is supported by the Montevideo Convention (1933), which Article 3 establishes that: 

The political existence of the state is independent of recognition by the other states. Even before recognition, the state has the right to defend its integrity and independence, to provide for its conservation and prosperity, and consequently to organize itself as it sees fit, to legislate upon its interests, administer its services, and to define the jurisdiction and competence of its courts. The exercise of these rights has no other limitation than the exercise of the rights of other states according to international law”.

Source: author safary248 - Pixabay

A State is then considered as such if it has control over an inhabited territory and is endowed with autonomous governing institutions, so that it can effectively exercise its sovereignty over the territory. It also means that the State is enabled to exploit the natural resources of its territory, and to provide services to the citizenry, as the population obtains the citizenship of the State to which it belongs.


One therefore gets the impression that the persecution to the detriment of minority populations may be primarily of a political nature. There is no valid reason for differences between peoples to lead to a sharp division between ethnic groups, and States, which enjoy a strong position concerning minorities, should be reminded of the principles of fundamental human rights. Diplomatic action must be incisive in this regard, because a clear-cut Western and Eastern stance on such issues can change the fate of peoples who are suffering countless casualties and seeing their rights denied.

June 17, 2021No Comments

How the Criminalisation of Homosexuality affects Migration Patterns from Africa

By: Rebecca Pedemonte

In 2018 I started a University research based on a series of interviews with individuals that had migrated from West African countries. The results showed that the fear of being persecuted based on sexual orientation is one of the many reasons why migrants decide to leave their country. In particular, one of the interviewees from Gambia reported that being considered a homosexual by the community could endanger his physical safety in his country.  

This evidence raises significant questions on discrimination against individuals of the LGBTQ+ community, although the International Community rarely discusses it. How much can these discriminations against individuals belonging to the LGBTQ+ community affect the choice to migrate from their country of origin? Such stigmatization derives from prevailing social and cultural norms, impregnated with intolerance and prejudices, and also, from national laws that reflect this kind of attitudes. Therefore, it is also significant to note how widespread are the provisions that criminalise the individuals from the said community within the African territory. 

According to the 2020 Report, published by the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, nowadays there are still many laws of African States that criminalize homosexual or transgender people. According to the laws in Mauritania, Somalia and part of Nigeria, anyone identified as belonging to the LGBTQ+ community can be given the death penalty. In the Central African area, such as in Sierra Leone, Gambia, part of Nigeria, Sudan, Uganda, Kenya, Tanzania, Malawi and Zambia, the individuals can be served with a prison sentence of a minimum of eleven years up to life imprisonment. In other eighteen states, most of which are located in the Maghreb area and in West Africa, homosexuality is sanctioned with periods of imprisonment that can vary from 1 month to eight years. 

On May 23rd, in Senegal, where currently the sexual act between homosexuals is punished with five years of imprisonment, hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Dakar, demanding the legitimacy of homophobia. It has been stated that they "want to promote correct social values". This emphasizes the fact that often it is the communities themselves that perpetuate these discriminations.

However, in some countries of the continent, the State’s law does not provide regulatory provisions or sanctions against homosexuality. However, according to numerous reports from NGOs, such as Amnesty International, it has been revealed the presence of multiple realities in which homosexuality is criminalized de facto; through persecution by government authorities or, even, by members of the communities themselves. This is what happens, for example, in Egypt, where torture and illegal detention of homosexuals are widely practiced. For all other countries of the continent, no verified criminalization is foreseen, but similarly, no protection or defence is envisaged within their laws either.

At the regulatory level, the only country that recognizes protection against LGBTQ+ people is South Africa. However, there are discrepancies between what is sanctioned by law and what happens in everyday life. 

Nonetheless, it has to be considered that in some areas of the continent, particularly in rural areas, the collection of data about these persecutions is highly complex. Therefore, there is no truthful information in many countries, or it is the State that does not want to collect and submit them to International Organizations. Consequently, several gray areas remain regarding the presence or absence of legislation that criminalize homosexuality within the African continent. For these reasons, it is difficult to structure a realistic mapping on the percentages of persecuted people for their sexual orientation. This detection appears even harder if we consider the percentage of people who emigrated from their country of origin out of fear of being persecuted. The data collection has been worsened by the general trend of the commissions for asylum-seekers to not publish the reasons for the recognition of international protection.

A note issued by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) specified that sexual orientation must be considered in the definition of “refugee,” along with gender identity. Specifically, it is a motivation that can affect the individual's well-founded fear of being persecuted. The 1951 Geneva Refugee Convention did not include these factors in the original essay formulation. Due to this Note to the 1967 Protocol of the Convention, people who have experienced discrimination or violence because of their sexual orientation may require international protection.   

Although it is difficult to define the exact number, UNHCR states that among the ten largest nationalities for asylum requests in 2016, eight have very harsh legislation against homosexuals and transgender people. 

Furthermore, it is important to underline the plurality of discriminations that a person belonging to the LGBTQ+ community suffers from and how little is this considered in the collective imaginary, especially in asylum and governmental policies.

It may appear that the governments are reluctant in setting up centers that might help and support the LGBTQ+ community. Even in countries with less stringent laws, it is difficult to do because of the prevailing community norms. Consequently, the person who migrates because of abuses and physical, sexual or verbal discrimination is forced to undergo the same degrading treatments and get low protection throughout the migratory path and, most probably, also in its aftermath.

The Covid-19 pandemic outbreak certainly did not improve the situation and contributed to increasing the vulnerability of this community. Given the status quo that provides ground for discrimination and little protection, there is an imminent need to revisit existing laws and enforce governmental and private programs to expand protection systems on field and defend victims from abuses. Raising awareness within the communities, building and establishing suitable centers on the territory, and volunteers' training are all fundamental factors that may change these human rights violations.