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.

October 23, 2023No Comments

Mr. Saji Prelis on Youth, Peace and Security

Mr. Saji Prelis talks about Youth, Peace and Security. Mr. Saji Prelis is the Director of children & youth programs at Search for Common Ground (SFCG).

In this session, Mr. Prelis talks about how the agenda first started, why Resolution 2250 is considered historic and the efforts that have led to it. He also discusses what challenges the efficient implementation of the YPS agenda are today and ends sharing tips for youth activists for their advocacy on youth-inclusion and YPS in their work.

Interviewer: Balkis Chaabane, Human Security Team

March 13, 2022No Comments

The Right to Adequate Food

By: Diletta Cosco.

The right to adequate food was firstly recognized in article 25 of the Universal Declaration of human rights in 1948, as well in the American Declaration of the Rights and Duties of Man the same year; It then became a “legal entitlement”, “codified in article 11” of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. Currently, 163 countries have ratified this convention, yet the right to food needs further practice both nationally and internationally. Since the 1948, especially after the recognition of the right to food into the two declarations mentioned above, the importance of this human right has captured further attention and it has been recognized in other several declarations and treaties.

The right to food is a basic human right protected under international human rights and humanitarian law and is recognized directly or indirectly by virtually all countries in the world through article 25.1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and article 11 of the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights. 

Food is considered as part of the right to health and well-being and an important need for a proper “standard of living, health and well-being of people”. The right to food is interconnected with other human rights as well; in fact, the lack of enjoyment of this right excludes the proper enjoyment of “life, dignity or the enjoyment of other human rights”.

The Committee of Economic, Social and Cultural rights adopted a document which defines the definition of the right to food. According to the meaning given, the right to food involves a quantity and quality that should be good enough to allow an individual to fulfil the necessary dietary needs. The right to food implies also a nutrition that is aligned according the culture of a certain individual. The Committee also established a violation of human rights whether a state does not fulfil the right to food to its citizens. The interest to adopt a human right based approach towards the end of hunger constitutes now a core mission in the United Nations (UN) policies which focus in parallel towards the development and fulfilment of human rights. The UN Millennium Development Goals, precisely in the sustainable Goal number 2, encourage states to commit to the guarantee of food to its citizenships and the end of hunger by 2030. The right to food usually requires government’s accountability mainly, but also other international and national actors such as the inter-governmental organizations are doing their parts towards the fulfilment of right to food; although, states play the most crucial role in the fulfilment of right to food. In fact, “states are duty-bearers, while people are right-holders”.Specifically, states are responsible to ensure this right is fulfilled when an agreement, treaties or declaration is signed; this means that states have signed to take part to the compliment of the right to food and consequently adequate legislations are required as well. In fact, states have the primary role to “respect, protect and fulfil” the right to food; conventions, declarations and treaties are necessary but additional instruments are fundamental to facilitate its implementation. Integrating this right into a country’s constitution is the first and most important step to ensure its fulfilment and it represents the greatest commitment that a country can have. Embedding this right into the Constitution would give long-term protection to the right itself and any law found in contrast with the right to food would be submitted for review, as laws that are in contradiction with the right to food are considered unconstitutional. In the case of South America and the Caribbean region, 15 countries have officially included the right to food into their constitution. Even though, Bolivia, Brazil, Cuba and Mexico are the only countries which recognize the right to food for all people, indistinctively. Countries in Latin America and the Caribbeans are a good example of commitment of ending hunger through the manifestation of various declarations about the right to food. A practical commitment should take place through the implementation of this basic human rights into their legislation as well. However, the recognition in constitutions itself is not enough but can be considered as a fair starting point towards the achievement of this objective; laws and legal framework are likewise necessary, cooperation between several actors at national and international level is fundamental as well. 

February 28, 2022No Comments

Agriculture 4.0 – The Revolutionary Power of Artificial Intelligence

Author: Zrinka Boric, Giorgia Zaghi, and Beatrice Gori

According to the estimates, the global population will reach 9.7 billion people by 2050. To meet such growing food demand, the food production in the world will need to increase by 70% in the upcoming decades. At the same time, the agricultural sector is currently facing several challenges, such as limited availability of arable land and fresh water, a slowdown in the growth of crop yields, consequences of climate change, and covid-19. The UN's second Sustainable Development Goal (SDG2) targets to end hunger, double agricultural productivity, and ensure sustainable food production systems by 2030. To successfully address the challenges and achieve food security digital technologies are expected to become a foundation in future food production. At the World Summit on Food Security 2009, the four pillars of food security were identified as availability, access, utilization, and stability.

Recently the Focus Group on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT) for Digital Agriculture (FG-AI4A) was formed, in cooperation with Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to explore the potential of technologies (AI, IoT) in the acquisition and handling of necessary data, optimization of agricultural production processes, and to ultimately identify best ways (and possible challenges) to use such technologies within the agricultural domain.Artificial intelligence (AI) technologies are forecast to add US$15 trillion to the global economy by 2030. According to the Government AI Readiness Index 2019, the governments of high income-countries have better odds to utilize these gains than low-income countries. Therefore, there is a risk that low-income countries could be left behind by the fourth industrial revolution.

Image Source: https://www.pexels.com/it-it/foto/piante-a-foglia-verde-2132171/

Examples of the use of digital technologies in agriculture

AI The utilization of AI and Human Intelligence can increase the capabilities and knowledge of farmers and improve the sustainability of their productions. Meanwhile, farmers can better manage their resources and obtain superior production rates. Sustainable green farms with optimal yielding are a fundamental step towards the Sustainable Development Goal 12 which provides for a “responsible consumption and production."Farms produce massive amounts of data daily, which AI and machine learning models could utilize to increase agricultural productivity while minimizing harmful practices (i.e. extensive use of pesticides, monocropping). 
Image Data (drones & satellites) For instance, agricultural technology or AgriTech drones are powerful tools that can help monitor the most inaccessible and vulnerable areas and design and support adequate farming operations. By surveying and mapping the fields, drones provide information and predictions on the crops' growth and help prevent anomalies and disruption of the productions.Satellite image data paired with AI technology aims to help governments and organizations address agricultural challenges by providing granular insight and data analysis. 
GPS (Global Positioning System) remote sensing technology  GPS technology is already steadily used to enhance agricultural processes and productivity and provides insight into the quantity of food produced proportionately to units of water. 
Internet of Things The IoT refers to devices with a sensor that enables them to transmit data through a network. IoT enables the collection and analysis of data and enables better tracking of performance, making informed decisions, and increasing efficiency and sustainability. 
Yield monitoring and mapping During the harvest, a dataset is collected (using different sensors and GPS technology) which can later be analyzed through specified software.This valuable dataset provides relevant information that helps to improve yield management, rational use of available resources, develop future nutrient strategies, and ultimately achieve more sustainable agriculture with lowered production costs. 
Automation Different forms of automation are used in agriculture to help farms operate more efficiently and increase productivity. Automation appears in many forms, from simple automatic watering systems used in many households, to specialized agricultural drones, robots (like harvest robots), and even driverless tractors. 

AI in low-income countries

AI has the potential to have relevant impacts on low-income countries as it could bring about more opportunities to current problems in agriculture and numerous other fields. AI is a tool directed towards development enhancement, the so-called “AI4D” (AI for development). AI could bring about infrastructural and qualitative development, in terms of societal empowerment and change.  

Moreover, one of the most relevant improvements in the agricultural sector would be rendering more efficient use of scarce resources. 

Specified technologies and systems can target specific needs and/or problems in the exact timing and/or quantities. The specific cases of Israel and China exemplify the relevance of AI for development and resilience. 

Both countries have massively invested in smart agriculture to increase yields, productivity and improve precision agriculture given the constraints of the growing scarcity of natural resources. China and Israel managed to improve their agricultural output to an extent where it is possible to consider them as “nations that feed the world”. Moreover, they both could export basic technologies to other countries to implement such “smart tools” to strengthen the latter’s agricultural export sector. For instance, this would be the case for Israel in countries like Indonesia and Thailand that have successfully utilized Israeli technology to improve their agricultural sector and export.

While the adoption of AI technology in agricultural practices of low-income countries seems like an easy way to solve relevant problems related to development, there are still many risks and barriers that ought to be considered. More specifically, compared to the costs of traditional systems, initial infrastructure costs for AI are extremely high – this would call for more participation from transnational organizations and technology companies to assist and supply basic infrastructure in low-income countries. 


To conclude, the opportunities that AI holds in the agricultural sector seem to have the potential to accomplish part of the SDGs agenda for 2030. This is certainly an argument that can be applied to Western countries with the investment capacity to carry on a fourth agricultural revolution. Optimization of precision agriculture and the efficient use of scarce resources are essential steps to fight world hunger and climate change. 

However, new technologies come with high entry-level costs and such investment could be too risky or too high for low-income countries and small-scale food producers. 

While a new agricultural revolution will benefit countries and food producers who can afford to bring about sustainable development, it is necessary to acknowledge that a significant risk lies ahead: leaving out the have-nots in favor of the sole development of the haves. 

January 4, 2022No Comments

The Far Right’s Threat On and Offline

By: Zachariah Parcels and Lucia Santabarbara.

Image Source: https://unsplash.com/photos/efrRLPZukCQ?utm_source=unsplash&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=view-photo-on-unsplash&utm_campaign=unsplash-ios

A United Nations (UN) report in July 2020 by the Security Counterterrorism Committee (CTED) showed a 320 per cent increase over the past five years in attacks by individuals and groups holding right-wing (RW) extremist ideas. The phenomena known as right-wing or far-right extremism is evidently becoming ubiquitous in nature, accelerated by the ever-increasing exchange of online content on social media platforms and imageboards. This article, thus, intends to briefly explore far-right extremism, how it might be defined, the role of the Internet, and the so-called “Lone Wolf” factor. There are various international initiatives that will be touched on to combat this cancerous, heterogeneous movement.  

What is far-right extremism?

Scholars and policymakers amalgamate ethnically-, racially-, and gender-based political violence, and various anti-liberal ideologies to define right-wing extremism (RWE). RWE’s heterogeneity translates to problematic umbrella definitions that are not necessarily categorically helpful. Nevertheless, many have attempted to address these conceptual challenges. For example, it might be conceptually useful to frame transnational RWE networks as internal revisionist challengers to the Liberal International Order.

Right-wing extremism (RWE) includes a swath of actors with differentiating beliefs and subcultures; these actors do not necessarily agree with one another or converge. Brenton Tarrant, who carried out the terrorist attack in Christchurch, New Zealand, exemplified the transnational nature of RWE. He wore a patch representing the Azov Brigade, a white supremacist paramilitary group fighting in Eastern Ukraine. He also supposedly interacted with and was evidently inspired by the Norwegian terrorist, Anders Behring Breivik, who carried out a car bombing in Oslo and a mass shooting on Utøya at a Labour Party youth camp.

RWE incorporates ideas such as ultra-nationalism, radical traditionalism, and neo-Nazism. In the United States (US), the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) perceives RWE dichotomously: there is the white supremacist sphere (the “alt-right,”neo-Nazis, and “racist skinheads”) and the anti-government extremist sphere like the radical militias and the sovereign citizens. ADL also highlights various single-issue movements on the fringes of mainstream social conservative movements that adopt extreme stances, such as anti-immigrant and Islamophobic sentiments. However, there is some intersectionality in the RWE phenomena that is helpful in conceptualising and addressing these ideologies.

Generally, RWE are anti-democratic and anti-liberal (hence, the revision challenger concept). Supremacy is an underlying foundation in RWE streams, which inherently opposes equality. RWE is associated with antisemitism (not necessarily anti-Israel stances; e.g.Anders Behring Breivik), racism, xenophobia, and authoritarianism, to name a few. 

There also appears to be shared catalysts in the rise of and a distinguished modi operandi among the various streams of the far right. The far right narratives share a collective memory of infamous events that justify their anti-government positions, namely the Ruby Ridge Standoff (1992), the Waco Seige (1993), the Brady Bill (1994) under former President Bill Clinton (perceived violation of their second amendments), and the Oklahoma City Bombing (1995) carried out by Timothy McVeigh. Two watershed moments further catalysed the rise and normalisation of various far-right notions, possibly unwittingly through political pandering. The election of President Barack Obama (2008-2016) created a nativist and white supremacist counter-reaction while the Presidency of Donald Trump (2016-2020) witnessed the normalisation of nativist, anti-government, anti-liberal, and antisemtic notions, individuals, and groups. For example, Trump infamously refused to denounce the far right and right-wing militia: “... Proud Boys, stand up and stand by…” The Proud Boys, one of many emerging organisations propagating far right notions, was founded by Gavin McInnes and have adopted various misogynistic, Islamophobic, transphobic, anti-immigrant, and, recently, antisimitic stances. The far-right have seemingly embraced Louis Beam’s notion of the “leaderless resistance” - a modi operandi known as “Lone Wolf” terrorism today was discussed as an alternative to a centralised hierarchy at an notorious RWE meeting at Estes Park, Colorado in 1992. This meeting is also perceived as the birthplace of the modern American militia movement.

The Internet and the “Lone Wolf” Risk

Individuals and groups espousing RWE ideologies have an exponentially growing online presence. This growth is being catalysed by the dissemination of conspiracy theories and disinformation that form or galvanise “enemies” in the COVID era’s anti-government zeitgeist. As illustrated through Raffaello Pantucci’s study of Breivik, the internet plays a focal role in disseminating extremist ideologies. The internet actualised Beam’s dreams of a “leaderless resistance” by inciting or mobilising individuals to violence, specifically to act as “lone wolf” terrorists. This was exemplified by Breivik in Norway, Alek Minassian in Toronto (2018), and Brenton Tarrant in New Zealand (2019). Boaz Ganor defines the latter as when one perpetrates a terrorist attack on their own or with the assistance or involvement of others, but without operational ties to any terrorist organisation. Beyond the essentiality to impede online mobilisation to violence to curb this “leaderless resistance,” studies have found that the far right are more likely to learn and communicate online than Jihadist-inspired individuals. Thus, there is plenty of impetus to combat far-right extremism online. 

International Initiatives to Combat RWE Content Online

The events before, during, and after the storming of the US Capitol building on 06 January 2021 further illuminates the crucial role the cyber domain is playing in RWE recruitment and propaganda initiatives. The planning and logistical organisation behind the Capitol Hill violence were via social media platforms. They were supported by the spread of disinformation and nationalist propaganda, such as through Telegram, Twitter, and Facebook. Operational information - namely the best times and methods to conduct the attack - were shared on social media months before. Precise details about the streets to take and paths to tread to avoid police checks were disseminated beforehand.

Many governments, and public and private entities have undertaken initiatives and practices to counter RWE online extremism to avoid such expressions of far-right extremism. One such initiative to counter RWE online content followed the abhorrent events in Christchurch in March 2019. New Zeland Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s government together with French President, Emmanuel Macron, launched the Christchurch Call with high-tech companies and social media platforms to eliminate terrorist and violent content from social media sites. This initiative was followed also by a severe condemnation by United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) towards acts of violence based on religion or belief,”alluding to Tarrant’s targeting of Muslim worshippers in Christchurch. On the 2 April 2019, the UNGA released the Resolution Combating terrorism and other acts of violence based on religion or belief, denouncing “the heinous, cowardly terrorist attack.” On 09 October of the same year, after the deadly attack on a synagogue and murder of a regional Christian Democrat (CDU) governor by far-right extremists, Germany approved the Network Enforcement Act. This act aims at preventing the dissemination of far-right online content and combating online hate speech and fake news. A provision also requests social media networks (with more than 100 complaints) to publish biannual reports to clarify how they dealt with complaints about illegal content. Lastly, the Global Internet Forum to Counter Terrorism (GIFCT) - a partnership between the European Union (EU) Internet Forum, Meta, Microsoft, Twitter, YouTube, civil society and academia - was initiated in 2017. The GIFCT adopts a global synergic technological approach based on knowledge sharing and joint research to prevent terrorists and violent extremists from exploiting digital platforms.

However, recent studies consistently show the increasing ubiquity and mobilisation of right-wing extremism networks that make current measures less effective. Recent COVID-19 emergency measures have inaugurated changes entailing limitations on personal freedoms for collective public safety. These pandemic-induced changes have created an anxiety-rich online environment with an abundance of conspiracy theories, disinformation or “fake news,” and memes that normalise violence. 

​​In conclusion, it appears that these challenges to liberal values and public safety demand innovative and persistent approaches. The cyber domain is continuously being exploited to radicalise and propagate far-right, anti-government narratives. Therefore, effective governmental responses - especially in the form of counter-narrative and public resilience initiatives - need to continuously adjust to these dynamic and adaptive revisionist challengers.